A new pest is causing damage in 2018

Wednesday October 17 2018 by Vitisphere

2018 marks a record year in terms of the presence and damage by honeydew moths.2018 marks a record year in terms of the presence and damage by honeydew moths. - Photo credit : DR

Gard Chamber of Agriculture advisor Cyril Cassarini is categorical: “This is a record year for the honeydew moth in terms of presence and damage. I have had calls reporting attacks in Gard, Var and Corsica”, said the pest expert. On an estate near Grau-du-Roi, on the Mediterranean coast, juice yields fell by 45%.

The moth has become a problem around the Mediterranean coast where it is difficult to continue to consider it as a minor pest.

Explaining its spread, Cyril Cassarini believes the pest is developing with global warming. "Apparently, the snowstorm in February protected it from the cold more than usual”, he said. “And as it is better known, we also receive more feedback about its attacks”. The moth, which is not easy to identify, has long gone unnoticed.

The caterpillars weave webs that create a microclimate in the middle of the cluster”, said Bruno Pèbre, technical manager at the Racine merchant company in Var. “The honeydew moth has a herding instinct. After flight and mating, it returns to lay eggs in the original nest. The caterpillars hide amidst the clusters, much like the army worms in their nests”, added Cyril Cassarini. “They nibble on the skin of the grapes, the juice runs and microorganisms set in”. In addition to direct damage, the larvae promote the onset of botrytis, or Aspergillus carbonarius, responsible for the production of ochratoxin A.





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