NEWS

Scientists suggest spraying with organic deterrent

There are ways to eliminate this pest, but powerful pressure from certain quarters has hindered their use. For some years now, scientists who have been warning that the population explosion of Marchalina hellenica is now out of control, have been recommending the spraying of the infested trees with an organic preparation, but the ministry put a stop to these plans after pressure from the Panhellenic Federation of Beekeepers. ETHIAGE’s Institute for Mediterranean Forest Ecosystems, in cooperation with Athens University’s Pharmacy Department, has suggested the use of an organic spray to control these insect populations, as opposed to harmful pesticides. The organic spray consists of an extract of thyme and Pistacia lentiscus (mastic tree) that prevents Marchalina hellenica from recognizing the host, but does not affect its natural predators, forcing the insect to abandon the tree. The spray does not harm any organism and does not kill the insect, but simply causes it to abandon hosts where it is undesirable. On the other hand, widespread testing and observations by the Institute for Mediterranean Forest Ecosystems have shown that pressure-hosing the insects off the trees, a solution used by many municipalities, causes insects that have been blasted out simply to colonize other trees.