Carob pests in the Mediterranean region: bio-ecology, natural enemies and management options.
An overview on the bio-ecology, natural enemies and pest contol tools of the main pests infesting carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua L.), pods and seeds in the Mediterranean region is provided herein. Most of the species are occasionally present on host carobs where they did not cause serious damage. In particular, the occurrence of mealybugs, soft and armored scales and also mites is usually sporadic. This is also the case for dipteran and lepidopteran pests, except for the most damaging and economic species, the carob moth Ectomyelois ceratoniae (Zeller), a highly polyphagous insect that can infest carob either in open-field or in storage. Cause of wounding are bark and wood-boring coleopteran insects, which can induce severe wilting and/or death of carob branches and trunk. The recent introduction in Europe of two species of Xylosandrus spp. (X. compactus and X. crassiusculus) is of increasing importance, due to their proven initial aggressiveness in Italy. Brief details regarding moth and rodent populations residing inside the storage buildings are also emphasized. Obviously, one aspect warranting special attention concerns the introduction and rapid spread in the Mediterranean region of invasive alien insect species such as some ambrosia beetles.