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Impoverishment of Sicilian (Italy) historical and cultural assets by an alien insect species:the case study of the Real Palm Weevil

  • Autori: Manachini, B.; Billeci, N.; Lorusso, C.; Palla, F.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2012
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


Microorganisms and insects have a disastrous impact on the biodiversity, cultural heritage and economy of a geographic area. However, in recent decades, the negative effects of invasive alien species (IAS), including both animal and plant or microorganisms occurring outside their natural distribution range, are generally not well known. Invasive alien species are most often found in or near urban areas, as well as throughout the settled landscape. According to the World Conservation Union, IUCN 2012, IAS represent the second most significant threat to biodiversity after resource depletion of habitats, becoming predators, competitors, parasites, hybridizers and diseases for native plants and animals. They often dominate the ecosystems they invade, upsetting the natural balance that existed prior to their introduction. In addition alien invasive insects can reduce the aesthetic value of urban landscapes and handicap the development of tourism. They can, moreover, destroy urban infrastructures and bring about so many disasters as to threaten urban ecological safety. The Red Palm Weevil (RPW), Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Olivier) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) is an IAS for Europe and is the most dangerous and deadly pest for many palm trees, on which its devastating effects are so evident. According to the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization EPPO, the weevil, originally from Malaysia, is considered to be a quarantine pest and initially became naturalized in isolated areas of southeast, southern, and western Asian countries. Today, the RPW is widely distributed in Europe, Africa, Oceania and Asia, and more recently in Curaçao, Netherlands, the Antilles and Orange County, California CDFA . It is also rapidly spreading in the Mediterranean basin through Phoenix canariensis and P. dactylifera date palms; R. ferrugineus was first recorded in Sicily (Italy) in 2005.