Cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha, M. hippocastani)
Biological cockchafer control in the EU Tyrol region:
A thirty-year success story
A marketable biological pesticide such as Melocont® fungal barley must be easy to use, safe, effective and affordable. Comprehensive scientific tests on the practical suitability of the biological active ingredient Melocont® fungal barley were successfully completed as part of the BEAUMON/MMExit/MELODOS/MELOBEAUMON/MELOSUS and MELOBEAUPOP research projects.
The effectiveness of the insecticidal fungus B. brongniartii, strain BIPESCO 2, was beyond doubt. It could be shown that the persistence of the fungus in the various treatment areas depended on the actual number of cockchafer infestations (including grub density) in the soil and on the frequency of application of the fungal active ingredient in the treatment areas. An inoculative mass application of Melocont® fungal barley in grassland, orchards, vineyards and arable crops leads to a desired B. brongniartii fungal density of over 1,000 colony forming units (CFU) per gram of dry soil weight (CFU g-1 soil TG). Provided that at least two applications of Melocont® fungal barley, spread over two planting seasons, with an application rate of at least 25 kg per hectare and application, and incorporated into the soil, either with a seed drill or rotary tiller, can be ensured.
A survey of farmers from the Tyrol Euroregion revealed that their subjectively positive assessment of the successful use of Melocont® fungal barley is almost identical to the scientific data we collected. This was particularly evident in the assessment of the reduction in cockchafer infestation numbers in the treatment areas. Based on the experience of over 30 years of using Melocont® fungal barley, it can indeed be assumed that the strain has a population-regulating effect.
The insecticidal fungal agent B. brongniartii, strain BIPESCO 2, can be isolated and detected both quantitatively and qualitatively in the various soils and from the fungalized individuals with the aid of a standardized back isolation technique on selective nutrient soils developed specifically at the Institute, as well as with the aid of a molecular biological method. With the help of these methods, those affected and consultants can be advised on how to proceed with the necessary cockchafer control. It can also be expected that this project study, funded by the province of Tyrol, will serve as a basis for future official procedures regarding EU-compliant authorization of the biologically effective, environmentally friendly fungal agent B. brongniartii.
Pilzgerste: Die biologische Maikäferbekämpfung (Landwirtschaftskammer Tirol; Facebook, 22. April 2021)
Kontaktperson: Hermann Strasser
General information: Biological control of Melolontha spp.