Estimating economic benefits of biological control of Ambrosia artemisiifolia by Ophraella communa in southeastern France.
The North American common ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, which produces highly allergenic pollen, is invasive in different parts of the world, including Europe. In 2013, common ragweed in northern Italy was found attacked by another accidentally introduced species, the North American leaf beetle Ophraella communa, which is used for biological control of common ragweed in China. Since the establishment of O. communa, ragweed pollen concentrations in northern Italy have significantly dropped. Here we set out to estimate the potential economic benefits of establishment of O. communa in the Rhcircumflex˜ne-Alpes region in south-eastern France, where detailed data on the economic impact of common ragweed are available. Extrapolating from the change in airborne ragweed pollen concentrations in the Milan area, we estimated that establishment of O. communa in the Rhcircumflex˜ne-Alpes region will reduce the number of days with ragweed pollen concentrations at which sensitive people express symptoms by 50% and the medical costs due to common ragweed by 5.2-6.8 M Euro annually. Our findings suggest that investments of public funds are justified to conduct a complete assessment of the potential risks and benefits associated with the accidental establishment of O. communa in Europe.