Aclees cf. sp. Foveatus (Coleoptera Curculionidae), an exotic pest of Ficus carica in Italy: a sustainable approach to defence based on aluminosilicate minerals as host plant masking solids.
The exceptionally frequent entries of alien pest are a major source of concern for the farmers who have to protect their crops from unknown insects, often without natural enemies in the new areas. A new pest belonging to the Molytinae family (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), tribe Hylobiini, reported as Aclees sp. cf. foveatus Voss, was recently introduced in Italy. The species is responsible for severe damages in many Italian fig nurseries and orchards, particularly in the Italian Central Northern regions, i.e. Tuscany, Ligury and Latium. Currently, no active ingredients are registered against this insect on fig crops. An innovative and eco-friendly approach for controlling this exotic weevil infestation was investigated, by using montmorillonite-based clays, either in their native state or containing copper(II) species, and clinoptilolite zeolites, in order to check the perception of the adults' weevil towards the different solid materials and, subsequently, to evaluate the capability of these innovative products to act as masking agent with respect to the host plant and/or as repellent upon contact. The formulations containing copper(II)-exchanged clay and clinoptilolite zeolite showed preliminary promising results in terms of efficacy and environmental sustainability.