The oak processionary caterpillar is a pest that plagues the Netherlands. The health issues such as irritation, pain in the eyes, skin, and throat that they cause, has authorities searching for a suitable solution.
In cooperation with Hellingman Onderzoek en Advies in the Netherlands, BioInnovate researched controlling the spread of this pest through mating disruption.
Mating disruption is a technique designed for sustainable pest control, developed around preventing the pest from mating. Pheromones are placed in the trees, disorienting the male moth, and preventing it from finding the female moth. This disrupts the reproductive cycle, resulting in a decline in population over time. These mating pheromones are species-specific, meaning that this technique does not interfere with other animal species. Therefore, it has no further impact on the biodiversity and provides a sustainable solution to the problem.
The study was put in place in multiple provinces throughout the Netherlands, initially testing the mating pheromones on 2000 oak trees. Results showed a significant decline of the population and decrease in number and size of the oak processionary caterpillar nests. After these promising results, further research is now directed at improving its time and cost efficiency.
The research has been covered by Nature Today, the Dutch National News (NOS), and multiple local news outlets in the Netherlands.