Corythucha arcuata (Say, 1832) (Hemiptera, Tingidae) in its invasive range in Europe: perception, knowledge and willingness to act in foresters and citizens.
The oak lace bug (OLB) Corythucha arcuata (Say, 1832) is an invasive alien species (IAS) that potentially could have many negative impacts on European oak health. Certain measures can be applied to counteract these effects. However, these measures may not be acceptable for forest managers or other stakeholder groups, such as private forest owners, environmental NGOs or the general public. Thereby, we set out to study the perception and knowledge of foresters and other stakeholders on the health status of European oak forests affected by oak lace bug and to investigate what forest health management measures would be acceptable to these target groups. An online survey questionnaire was designed and distributed via social networks, as well as professional networks via e-mails. The survey questionnaire was completed by 2084 respondents from nine European countries: Austria, Croatia, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. Even though only a little over 60% of respondents reported they had noticed the discolouration of oak leaves caused by OLB, almost all (93%) considered it to be a problem. As respondents come from a country where C. arcuata is widespread and established, people's general knowledge and awareness of OLB began to increase. The survey revealed that foresters thought that the insect affected photosynthesis, acorn crop and the aesthetics of the trees, but cannot cause death of trees. However, they assume that the value of the wood would decrease (this fact is also supported by the respondents who are connected to an environmental NGO), but that OLB does not affect property value. However, forest owners claim that the value of the property can be affected and that people would avoid entering the forest. In terms of potential control methods, respondents preferred biological or mechanical measures over chemical ones. We consider this study to be a good basis for further research on the topic of perception, knowledge and attitudes related to OLB since we can expect that the IAS, such as OLB, will certainly spread to European countries that were not included in this survey.