The large pine weevil, Hylobius abietis, can lead to complete loss of newly planted native or coniferous species, in some cases making continued forest management unsustainable.
Hylobius abietis is present throughout the UK and, as an adult, is the most serious pest of young, newly planted trees on sites where conifers form the preceding tree cover.
Contrary to its common name it is a generalist feeder. It can damage and kill not only our native Scots pine but all UK conifer species, as well as many of our native broadleaves. This can happen any time between restocking and 5 to 6 years later.
Adult weevils migrate onto sites where trees have been felled within the last 5 years. They lay their eggs on stumps and branches on the ground. Adults emerge in the autumn to feed on young seedlings, girdling the stems and often killing the young trees.
It is estimated the direct costs of damage losses are in the region of £5 million a year in the UK. This estimate excludes:
- future financial losses due to poorer crop quality in unevenly established stands
- loss of production and delayed revenue
With these losses included, the total financial impact to land managers is estimated to be around £40 million a year.
Several factors create the potential for considerably increased damage by this weevil. Current damage prevention relies heavily on insecticides but these may not be available in the future due to changes in forest accreditation, insecticide regulation and registration of plant protection products.
As the climate changes, it is predicted that higher temperatures will lead to Hylobius maturing at a larger size, which gives them a higher feeding rate, lower mortality and more offspring. The warmer climate will provide an extended feeding period and a faster generation time.
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Further help and information
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