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New Zealand gets first-hand lesson from visiting BMSB expert

The invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) poses a huge threat to New Zealand’s primary industries. Experience from countries where the pest is present is highly valuable to New Zealand in preventing and controlling any potential BMSB outbreaks. Professor Claudio Ioriatti, a world-renowned expert on BMSB, will visit New Zealand and share useful knowledge from the European BMSB control effort.

Professor Ioriatti, Director of the Technology Transfer Centre, the Fondazione Edmund Mach, Italy, will tour New Zealand from 19 to 31 May on an Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) Conference Support Programme. He will meet key groups involved in improving New Zealand’s readiness for BMSB in Auckland, Wellington, Hawke’s Bay and Tauranga.

Plant & Food Research has been pioneering pre-emptive biocontrol and actively looking for alternatives in case of a BMSB incursion. Professor Ioriatti will conduct seminars and talks with Plant & Food Research scientists and other stakeholders including Ministry for Primary Industries officials, horticultural industry representatives, and growers from the pipfruit, wine grape and kiwifruit industries, amongst others.

He will give updates on European Union’s progress in BMSB control and outline the general impacts of BMSB in Italy and the EU, the current situation, impacts on horticulture, and Integrated Management Strategies such as the use of netting and biocontrol options, as well as insecticides. Other emerging threats including Spotted Wing Drosophila and Spotted Lantern fly will also be discussed.

Professor Ioriatti has a strong interest in the development of integrated fruit-viticulture protection and the implementation of control techniques based on the use of pheromones. As Director of the Technology Transfer Centre, he specialises in anticipating the needs of horticultural industries, understanding problems, studying solutions and disseminating knowledge in order to maintain high production quality while protecting the environment.

Besides raising awareness amongst New Zealand growers, Professor Ioriatti will discuss the options facing Italian growers in the Trentino region, where stink bugs and fruit flies are driving growers back towards the use of insecticides in several crops. His visit and knowledge will help advance New Zealand growers’ preparedness to these threats.

This is a reciprocal visit that builds on the 2018 Trimble Award given to Plant & Food Research Science Group Leader Professor Max Suckling, who visited Professor Ioriatti at Fondazione Edmund Mach for three months to work on BMSB last year.

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