Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Hylobius abietis
(large pine weevil)



Hylobius abietis (large pine weevil)


  • Last modified
  • 08 November 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Hylobius abietis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • large pine weevil
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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Adult weevil.
CaptionAdult weevil.
Copyright©Rune Axelsson
Adult weevil.
AdultAdult weevil.©Rune Axelsson


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Hylobius abietis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Preferred Common Name

  • large pine weevil

Other Scientific Names

  • Curculio abietis Linnaeus, 1758
  • Curculio pini Marsham, 1802
  • Hylobitelus abietis (Linnaeus, 1758)

International Common Names

  • English: fir-tree weevil; large brown pine weevil
  • Spanish: gorgojo del abeto
  • French: charançon de l'épinette; charançon européen; grand charançon du pin; hylobe du pin
  • Russian: bolshoy sosnovy dolgonosik

Local Common Names

  • Czech Republic: klikoroh borovy
  • Denmark: n'lletróssnudebillen
  • Estonia: männikärsakas
  • Finland: tukkimiehentäin
  • Germany: grosser brauner Rüsselkäfer; Ruesselkaefer, Grosser Brauner; Ruessler, Grosser Brauner Nadelholz-
  • Hungary: nagy fenyoormanyos
  • Italy: all'ilobio dell'abete; Ilobio dell'abete
  • Latvia: priezu lielais smecernieks
  • Lithuania: didysis pusinis straubliukas
  • Netherlands: Grote dennesnuitkever
  • Norway: gransnutebillen
  • Poland: szeliniak sosnowiec
  • Romania: trombarul puietilor de molid
  • Sweden: snyttbage

EPPO code

  • HYLOAB (Hylobius abietis)

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Coleoptera
  •                         Family: Curculionidae
  •                             Genus: Hylobius
  •                                 Species: Hylobius abietis


Top of page The egg is less than 1 mm long and less than 0.5 mm wide, pearly-white and oval (Salisbury and Leather, 1998).

The cream-coloured larva is soft, curved and legless. It has a large, light-brown head, with strong mandibles, which are flattened and as wide as the first segment of the body. Mature larvae are 10-15 mm long. There are five larval instars; the widths of the head capsule measure 0.6-0.8 mm (first instar), 0.9-1.1 mm (second instar), 1.1-1.7 mm (third instar), 1.6-2.5 mm (fourth instar) and 2.5-3.5 mm (fifth instar) (Bakke and Lekander, 1965).

The pupa is 8-10 mm long, exarate (appendages are free) and unpigmented.

The adult is 9-15 mm long. A hard chitinous covering protects the body. The wing cases, which completely cover the abdomen, are purple-brown in young adults and later become black. There are patches of yellow scales on the wing cases and on the thorax. The thorax is slightly broader than it is long, strongly convex and constricted at the front. The surface of the thorax is punctured and wrinkled with a raised central line. The head is extended to form a strong snout with mandibles at the tip. The antennae are elbowed and attached to the snout near the end. The large eyes are positioned on either side at the base of the snout. The legs have sharp claws with a strong tooth on the inner edge of each femur.


Top of page H. abietis is a pest of coniferous plantations in many European countries. It also occurs in Russia, Japan and China.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ArmeniaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
AzerbaijanPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
ChinaPresentLiu et al., 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-AnhuiPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-HeilongjiangPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
Georgia (Republic of)PresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
JapanPresentSasakawa and Wakita, 1959; Morimoto, 1982; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
KazakhstanPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
TurkeyWidespreadAcatay, 1971; Tozlu, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014


AustriaPresentFerenczy, 1991; Steyrer et al., 2002; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
BelarusPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
BelgiumPresentNef and Zenon-Roland, 1974; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
BulgariaPresentCankov, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
Czech RepublicPresentZumr and Stary, 1993; Zumr and Stary, 1995; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
Czechoslovakia (former)WidespreadBadalik, 1988; Mracek, 1988
DenmarkPresentEngberg, 1976; Bejer, 1982; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
EstoniaPresentVoolma, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
FinlandWidespreadNilssen, 1984; Selander, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
FrancePresentCoutin, 1984; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
GermanyPresentNiemeyer, 1974; Geiser and Waldert, 1979; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
HungaryPresentKiss, 1966; Prenner et al., 1983; Fodor, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
IrelandPresentWard, 1988; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
ItalyPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
LatviaPresentBrammanis, 1940; Vitola et al., 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
LithuaniaWidespreadZiogas et al., 1976; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
MoldovaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
NetherlandsPresentDoom and Frenken, 1980; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
NorwayPresentChristiansen, 1971a; Christiansen and Sandvik, 1974; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
PolandPresentKorczynski, 1988; Skrzecz, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
RomaniaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
Russian FederationPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-Central RussiaPresentNaumov, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-Eastern SiberiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-Northern RussiaPresentScerbakova, 1968; Yurkina, 1991; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-Southern RussiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-Western SiberiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
SlovakiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
SloveniaPresentJurc Potocnik, 2000; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
SpainPresentEspanol, 1965; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-Spain (mainland)PresentCABI/EPPO, 2003
SwedenPresentEidmann, 1981; Von Sydow, 1997; Lindelow and Bjorkman, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
SwitzerlandPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
UKRestricted distributionHeritage et al., 1989; Wilson and Day, 1994; Leather et al., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-England and WalesPresentEPPO, 2014
-Northern IrelandPresentEPPO, 2014
UkrainePresentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014


New ZealandAbsent, formerly presentCABI/EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page H. abietis beetles are polyphagous and can damage almost all species of coniferous and some deciduous trees. Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) is the preferred food plant, followed by Norway spruce (Picea abies). Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) and Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) are also attractive food sources for H. abietis (Långström, 1982; Kuziemska-Grzeczka, 1985; Wilson and Day, 1996).

Less damage is observed on beech (Fagus sylvatica) and oak (Quercus robur) seedlings (Lof et al., 2000).

Growth Stages

Top of page Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage


Top of page Between April and September, beetles of H. abietis feed on the bark of coniferous seedlings and remove patches of bark and phloem tissue. The coalescence of bare patches can lead to the death of seedlings due to stem girdling (Leather et al., 1999). H. abietis beetles chew patches in the bark of stems and lateral shoots of seedlings. This can cause the deformation of young trees and even lead to their death. The insect also feeds on the bark and needles of young shoots in older stands.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Leaves / wilting
Stems / external feeding
Whole plant / external feeding
Whole plant / plant dead; dieback
Whole plant / seedling blight

Biology and Ecology

Top of page H. abietis damages coniferous seedlings when planting is carried out on 1- to 3-year-old clear cuttings. In spring or early summer, the beetles migrate by flight or by walking to clear cuttings from adjoining stands. They are attracted by volatiles (mainly alpha-pinene and ethanol) emanating from the resin of fresh conifer stumps left during clear-felling (Tilles et al., 1986). These stumps act as a base for breeding by H. abietis and development from egg to imago takes place there. Solbreck and Gyldberg (1979) showed that large numbers (90%) of beetles fly in the evenings when the air temperature is above 18.5°C and the wind speed is less than 3 m/s. During the flight period, beetles can cover distances of more than 10 km and migration consists of repeated flights.

H. abietis tends to display two peaks of mass occurrence, which lead to higher levels of damage caused by the beetles. The first peak takes place from April in central Europe to June in northern Europe and corresponds to the emergence of overwintering pine weevils. The feeding activity of beetles is dependent on temperature and, in the laboratory, optimum temperatures oscillate between 19 and 28°C (Christiansen and Bakke, 1968). Very little feeding activity is observed at temperatures below 10 and above 30°C. Under extremely warm conditions, for example in mid-summer and in places exposed to direct solar radiation, the feeding activity of beetles is strongly nocturnal (Christiansen and Bakke, 1971).

In conifer plantations, the pine weevils feed on the phloem and browse the bark of stems and lateral shoots of seedlings, which can lead to the deformation or death of trees. The beetles can also feed on slash or branches of conifers lying on the ground and can eat the bark of branches in the crowns of standing trees located at the edge of clear cuttings (Örlander et al., 2000). Crown feeding mainly takes place during the spring and summer when the pine weevils migrate to new breeding sites. The beetles are polyphagous but Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies, Picea sitchensis and species of Larch are the most attractive food sources.

Between late May and early July the females lay eggs in niches chewed in the bark of roots of fresh coniferous stumps. Eggs can also be laid in the soil and newly-hatched larvae are able to find roots due to host odour (Salisbury and Leather, 1998). In the vegetative season, H. abietis females may lay about 100 eggs (Korczynski, 1985). Females prefer to oviposit in pine rather than spruce and development of H. abietis is slower in spruce stumps than in pine (Långström, 1982). The larvae feed on tissues of the inner bark and the cambium, forming a tunnel of increasing diameter. Fully grown, fifth-instar larvae, that are ready to pupate, excavate pupal chambers between the bark and wood or in the wood. The time required for completion of the life cycle of H. abietis from egg to adult emergence depends on a combination of locality factors and weather conditions. The life cycle is completed in 1 year in sunny or moderately sheltered areas and 2 years in shaded areas (Kuziemska-Grzeczka, 1984). In colder climates, larval development generally takes 2 years but can take up to 5 years (Långström, 1982). On the basis of laboratory studies and field observations, the optimum temperature for development of H. abietis larvae was found to oscillate between 20 and 25°C; development takes 40 days at 23°C (Christiansen, 1971b). Under warm summer conditions there is a second mass occurrence of H. abietis beetles in the growing season between late July and early September, resulting from the emergence of adults from eggs laid in late spring to early summer. Larvae of the final instar may enter a diapause lasting 60 to 220 days when exposed to temperatures between 10 and 20°C (Eidmann, 1963); this leads to the extension of H. abietis development into the following spring.

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis Pathogen
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen Adults/Larvae
Bracon hylobii Parasite Larvae
Nosema hylobii Pathogen Larvae
Paenibacillus popilliae Pathogen
Perilitus areolaris Parasite Adults
Perilitus rutilus Parasite Adults
Podapolipus komareki Parasite
Pterostichus madidus Predator Larvae
Steinernema carpocapsae Parasite Adults/Larvae
Steinernema feltiae Parasite Adults/Larvae
Stigmacarus lukoschusi Parasite

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Fungi

In Sweden and the UK, the fungus, Beauveria bassiana, was isolated from H. abietis larvae and adults (Gerdin, 1977; Leather et al., 1999). The fungus was found on H. abietis in the field and its biological activity was confirmed in laboratory experiments (Gerdin; 1977; Wegensteiner and Führer, 1988).


Bracon hylobii is a common parasitoid of H. abietis larvae and has been described in Sweden, UK, Denmark and Germany (Henry and Day, 2001). In the UK, it appears wherever the larvae of H. abietis are found and can cause up to 50% mortality of the large pine weevil population developing in Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) stumps during 3 years after felling.

In Sweden and former Czechoslovakia, Perilitus areolaris has been reported as a parasitoid of H. abietis beetles (Gerdin and Hedqvist, 1985; Stary et al., 1988). Field evidence in Czechoslovakia indicated that P. areolaris is an effective parasitoid and was found in 15-16% of collected beetles.

In Poland, Perilitus rutilus was described as a parasite of H. abietis and parasitized about 2.5% of adults (Korczynski, 1984).


The entomopathogenic nematodes, Steinernema feltiae, Steinernema carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora have been described as parasites of the beetles and larvae of H. abietis in Sweden and the UK (Pye and Burman, 1977; Brixey, 1997).

S. carpocapsae has been found on the host in the field. Laboratory and field studies have shown its biological activity against H. abietis. S. feltiae was described as a natural enemy of H. abietis on the basis of laboratory experiments (Pye and Burman, 1977; Pye and Pye, 1985; Brixey, 1997; Skrzecz, 1998; Armendáriz et al., 2000).


Studies conducted in the UK indicated that Pterostichus madidus were able to consume larvae of H. abietis during their migration through the soil (Salisbury and Leather, 1998).

Wood Packaging

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Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Loose wood packing material
Processed or treated wood
Solid wood packing material with bark
Solid wood packing material without bark


Top of page H. abietis is a pest of great economic importance damaging young conifer plantations. In the UK, the protection of forest plantations against beetles of H. abietis costs the Forestry Commission approximately £2 million per annum (Leather et al., 1999). In the absence of control measures, more than 50% of all planted trees will die in the first few years of establishment (Heritage and Moore, 2000). In Northern Ireland, damage is highly variable and on some sites it may be minimal whereas on others it may cause the death of up to 90% of newly-planted seedlings (Wilson and Day, 1996). In southern and central Sweden, reforestations planted with unprotected conifer seedlings revealed an average of over 30% plant mortality caused by H. abietis after the first 2 years (Eidmann, 1981).

Detection and Inspection

Top of page Estimations of the number of H. abietis adults in forest plantations are based on catches of beetles in traps made from freshly cut pine billets, slices of fresh bark or baited pitfall traps containing food attractant (Nordlander, 1987; Kolk, 1994). The traps should be installed throughout coniferous plantations from the beginning of April to September and should be inspected every week to monitor the number of H. abietis beetles.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page The beetles and larvae of H. abietis are similar in appearance to all Pissodes sp., especially Pissodes notatus [Pissodes castaneus] and Pissodes pini, which also occur in forest plantations. The adults may be easily distinguished by the position of the antennae on the snout, which are near the tip in H. abietis and near the middle in Pissodes. H. abietis and Pissodes beetles also differ in the shape and arrangement of the groups of hairs forming patterns on the wing cases. In Pissodes these hairs are short, broad and are arranged in definite broad bands, whereas in H. abietis they are long, narrow and arranged in small groups in short, irregular lines. Pissodes beetles are generally smaller.

Within Pissodes sp., only P. pini develops in the bark of felled trees or in stumps and the larvae can be confused with those of H. abietis. The larvae of H. abietis differ from those of Pissodes; their heads are large, flattened and almost as wide as the first segment of the body whereas the head of Pissodes larvae is more rounded and much smaller in relation to the body.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Physical Control

To directly reduce the number of pine weevils, freshly cut and split billets or pieces of fresh pine or spruce bark are used (Långström, 1982; Leather et al., 1999). In Sweden and Poland, traps with food attractant were developed for capturing H. abietis beetles (Nordlander, 1987; Kolk, 1994). In Sweden, experiments have been conducted to use available synthetic anti-feedant compounds to protect seedlings against H. abietis (Klepzig and Schlyter, 1999).

Chemical Control

The most common method of protecting forest plantations against H. abietis is by using chemicals. This consists of dipping the above-ground parts of the seedlings in insecticides immediately before planting or using post-planting sprays (Glowacka et al., 1991; Heritage, 1997; Tortensson et al., 1999).

Biological Control

Studies aimed at the development of biological methods based on micro-organisms pathogenic to H. abietis have been conducted in many countries but at present none have been put into practice. In the UK, experiments have focused on using nematodes against H. abietis. It was found that these parasites may be used in the long-term suppression of H. abietis populations (Brixey, 1997).

Experiments were carried out in Poland using Phlebiopsis gigantea, a fungus that decomposes pine stumps, to estimate the impact of P. gigantea on the colonization of pine stumps by H. abietis (Skrzecz, 1996). Results indicated that the infection of pine stumps by P. gigantea reduces their colonisation intensity by H. abietis. Application of the fungus may protect plants by reducing the number of large pine weevil larvae developing in the stumps.


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+rlander G; Nilsson U; Nordlander G, 1997. Pine Weevil Abundance on Clear-cuttings of Different Ages: A 6-year Study using Pitfall Traps. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 12:225-240.

÷rlander G; Nordlander G; Wallertz K; Nordenhem H, 2000. Feeding in the crowns of Scots pine trees by the pine weevil Hylobius abietis. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 15(2):194-201; 26 ref.

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Christiansen E; Bakke A, 1971. Feeding activity of the pine weevil Hylobius abietis L. (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) during a hot period. Norsk Entomol. Tidskr., 18:109-111.

Christiansen E; Sandvik M, 1974. Damage by Hylobius abietis to Scots Pine on scarified patches. Norsk Skogbruk, 20(5):8-9.

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Doom D; Frenken GWP, 1980. Postponement of replanting as a silvicultural method to prevent damage by the large pine weevil Curculio [Hylobius] abietis. Nederlands Bosbouw Tijdschrift, 52(9):217-227.

Eidmann HH, 1963. Zur Diapause einiger Forstinsecten. Zeitschrift fnr Angewandte Entomologie, 52:362-367.

Eidmann HH, 1981. Pine weevil research for better reforestations, Proceedings of the XVII World Congress IUFRO, Japan Division, 2:441-447.

Engberg B, 1976. Hylobius abietis and a Danish method of forest regeneration. Skogen, 63(2):54-56.

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Ferenczy J, 1991. Mit Erfolg gegen den Grossen Braunen RusselkaSfer. Osterreichische Forstzeitung, 3:62-63.

Fodor S, 1986. New data on the life history of Hylobius abietis and methods of protection against the pest. Erdeszeti Kutatasok, 78:363-368

Geiser R; Waldert R, 1979. Development of Hylobius abietis L. (Col., Curculionidae) in heaps of spruce and pine bark near Munich. Anzeiger fur Schadlingskunde Pflanzenschutz Umweltschutz, 52(6):93-94.

Gerdin S, 1977. Observations on pathogens and parasites of Hylobius abietis (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in Sweden. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 30(2):263-264.

Gerdin S; Hedqvist KJ, 1984. Perilitus areolaris sp. n. (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), an imago-parasitoid of the large pine weevil, Hylobius abietis (Linnpus), and its reproductive behaviour. Entomologica Scandinavica, 15(3):363-369

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Henry CJ; Day KR, 2001. Egg allocation by Bracon hylobii Ratz., the principal parasitoid of the large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis L.), and implications for host suppression. Agricultural and Forest Entomology, 3(1):11-18; 46 ref.

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Kiss L, 1966. Damage by Hylobius abietis and its control. ErdTszeti Kutatßsok, Budapest, 62(1/3):279-83.

Klepzig KD; Schlyter F, 1999. Laboratory evaluation of plant-derived antifeedants against the pine weevil Hylobius abietis (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Journal of Economic Entomology, 92(3):644-650; 26 ref.

Kolk A, 1994. The use of synthetic pheromones in forest protection in Poland. Proceedings of the 3rd Meeting of EPS/IOBC, 12-14 September 1994, Sekocin, Poland, 117-130.

Korczynski I, 1985. Investigations on fecundity of large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis L.), Prace Komisji Nauk Rolniczych i Komisji Nauk Lesnych, LX:47-51.

Korczynski I, 1988. Seasonal changes in the spatial distribution of feeding by the pine weevil Hylobius abietis in Scots pine plantations. Sylwan, 132(9):49-53.

Korczynski J, 1984. New data on the occurrence in Poland of Perilitus rutilus Nees (Hymenoptera, Braconidae) as a parasite of the pine weevil Hylobius abietis L. (Coleoptera, Curculionidae). Polskie Pismo Entomologiczne, 54(2):403-406.

Kuziemska-Grzeczka G, 1984. Potential for and rate of development of Hylobius abietis (Col., Curculionidae) on various tree species in sunny and shaded areas. Folia Forestalia Polonica, A (Lesnictwo), No. 27:49-57.

Kuziemska-Grzeczka G, 1985. Studies of food preference by Hylobius abietis. Folia Forestalia Polonica, A (Lesnictwo), No. 26:113-126.

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