Current issue: 57(1)
Adult pine weevils (Hylobius abietis (L.)) feed on the tender bark of branches and roots of mature conifer trees and on the stem bark of conifer seedlings. Their feeding on mature trees does not cause any economic damage, but their feeding on planted seedlings is so devastating that the pine weevil is considered one of the most important forest pest insects in Europe. We asked whether the pine weevil prefers seedlings over other regularly utilized food sources. This question is of particular interest because new approaches to seedling protection are based on decreasing any preference for seedlings by using less palatable plants or by enhancing their defence (by genetic selection or by methyl jasmonate treatment). In a laboratory choice experiment we tested pine weevil feeding preferences for seedlings compared with branches and roots from mature trees (separately for Norway spruce and Scots pine). Pine weevils preferred roots, but not branches, of Norway spruce over seedlings of the same species. With Scots pine there were no clear preferences, but the weevils showed a tendency to prefer roots over seedlings. These results provide support for seedling protection approaches that attempt to redirect pine feeding from planted seedlings to other food sources.
The pine weevil Hylobius abietis L. is an economically important pest insect that kills high proportions of conifer seedlings in reforestation areas. It is present in conifer forests all over Europe but weevil abundance and risk for damage varies considerably between areas. This study aimed to obtain a useful model for predicting damage risks by analyzing survey data from 292 regular forest plantations in northern Sweden. A model of pine weevil attack was constructed using various site characteristics, including both climatic factors and factors related to forest management activities. The optimal model was rather imprecise but showed that the risk of pine weevil attack can be predicted approximatively with three principal variables: 1) the proportion of seedlings expected to be planted in mineral soil rather than soil covered with duff and debris, 2) age of clear-cut at the time of planting, and 3) calculated temperature sum at the location. The model was constructed using long-run average temperature sums for epoch 2010, and so effects of climate change can be inferred from the model by adjustment to future epochs. Increased damage risks with a warmer climate are strongly indicated by the model. Effects of a warmer climate on the geographical distribution and abundance of the pine weevil are also discussed. The new tool to better estimate the risk of damage should provide a basis for foresters in their choice of countermeasures against pine weevil damage in northern Europe.