Hypocrealean Fungi Associated with Hylobius abietis in Slovakia, Their Virulence against Weevil Adults and Effect on Feeding Damage in Laboratory
In temperate regions of Europe, the large pine weevil, Hylobius abietis, is a major pest of coniferous forests mostly at sites where clear-felling is followed by planting of saplings. Control measures against this pest are based on silvicultural techniques, an application of physical barriers on stems of saplings and insecticide treatments. To avoid the use of insecticides, alternative measures such as biological control have been investigated. The goal of the present study was to obtain local
... as to obtain local strains of entomopathogenic fungi (Ascomycota, Hypocreales) from natural populations of H. abietis, and to investigate their efficacy against the weevil. A survey on entomopathogenic fungi was undertaken at clear-felled areas of spruce forests in northern Slovakia. Two Beauveria species, B. bassiana and B. pseudobassiana, were identified, and 22 in vitro strains were obtained. Mean prevalence of infected adults was low (2.10% ± 0.67%) and the mycosis was mostly recorded during May and June. Virulence of Beauveria strains against the weevil was tested in laboratory. B. bassiana strain AMEP20 was significantly most virulent (LC50 of 0.65 ± 0.10 × 108 conidia mL−1). Treatment with conidia of AMEP20 strain affected feeding damage by the weevil on bark of Scots pine twigs. Daily bark consumption by B. bassiana-treated weevils was lower than by untreated individuals and decreased with increasing conidia concentration used for the treatment. In the outdoor experiment, AMEP20 strain killed weevils that fed on spruce saplings treated with conidia suspensions. Mortality due to mycosis on weevils exposed to the conidia-treated saplings reached 30.0%–76.5% and 55.0%–88.2% after 32 and 46 days, respectively.