July 2020

Safer alternatives to synthetic pesticides for controlling insect pests in forestry

The large pine weevil, Hylobius abietis, is a insect pest with a taste for young trees. Without effective control, it can easily destroy all newly planted trees on a conifer clearfell site. For many years, the main method of defence from Hylobius has been to treat the trees with synthetic pyrethroid pesticides, but over the last decade or so the forest industry has been on the search for less hazardous alternatives. From 2009, Forest Research has undertaken a very large research programme to find possible safer alternatives. In 2019, it asked Andy Moffat to help in writing up the research so that peer-reviewed publications could be produced. The first of three planned scientific papers reporting on this collaborative research effort has recently been published in the journal Forestry. This initial paper reports on the effectiveness of over fifty different combinations of chemical and non-chemical approaches, which were tested on sixteen different sites. It concludes that there several new protection strategies could alleviate the need for commonly used pyrethroid pesticides and thus help to protect the environment. The paper can be downloaded HERE.