Aarhus University Seal

Drastic reduction of insecticide use against pollen beetles is possible

Arhus University is involved in a new European project that aims to develop alternatives to pesticides for the control of pollen beetles in oilseed rape, thus paving the way for a drastically reduced use of insecticides.

[Translate to English:] Udvikling af alternative metoder til bekæmpelse af glimmerbøsser i raps kan bane vejen for et markant mindre forbrug af insekticider. Foto: Janne Hansen

Pollen beetles (Meligethes spp.) are a major pest in European oilseed rape. These tiny beetles have evolved resistance throughout Europe to the only class of insecticides that is widely available, namely pyrethroids. Alternative solutions to controlling the pest are urgently needed.


Scientists from Aarhus University and universities in Finland, Belgium and Estonia aim to do just that in a new, three-year European project with a total budget of € 597.231. The aim of the project is to refine traditional management programmes, which rely on outdated damage thresholds and procedures that destroy natural enemies of the beetle. 


The project partners will develop novel, safe, sustainable and economically feasible strategies in which insecticide spraying is only used as a last resort. This will reduce pesticide treatments, allow natural pest control to operate, and ease the selection pressure on the pest and prolong the efficacy of the available insecticides.


Novel IPM approaches

The new project will combine the best tools from integrated pest management (IPM) and develop novel approaches to overcome the mounting problems with pesticide resistance in pollen beetles in Europe by providing a set of cascading alternatives for pollen beetle control.


The basic new tool is simple: changing tillage regimes. The project partners predict that in combination with revised and dynamic thresholds and improved forecasting and monitoring tools, farmers will be able to drastically reduce their use of insecticides, lower environmental pollution, and avoid or slow down the development of resistance.


The key components of the project include:


·         Cropping system buffering against pest outbreaks via innovative biological control

·         Development of forecasting and monitoring methods and revised treatment thresholds

·         Targeted precision biocontrol for delivery of novel biocontrol products

·         Development of RNA interference methods for pollen beetle control


These novel approaches are effective, non-toxic and selective biocontrol measures that can control the pest and avoid problems with pesticide resistance. The control tools can even help farmers manage occasional pest population peaks without the use of insecticides


For more information please contact: Senior scientist Gabor Lövei, Department of Agroecology, e-mail: gabor.lovei@agro.au.dk, telephone: +45 8715 8224


Sustainable Pest Management is one of the research areas in which the Department of Agroecology is particularly strong and from which results are delivered in line with national and global societal challenges and goals.