The compulsory circulation of people, goods, ornamental plants, slaughtered meat and many objects is caused by the unstoppable process of globalization that, in this 21st century, has reached explosive levels. It is reflected on the sudden changes that sometimes cause bigger problems to human populations. There is a biological discipline dealing with these phenomena, called zoogeography. There will be more and more need for young zoogeographers and botanists to face these problems together. Not to mention the young experts of viruses, spreading around the planet, transmitted by people and animals. We’re talking about the beetle, the “alien species” and Roma…
Along the railways, from bananas and vegetables boxes, exotic insects like various kind of beetle, seedlings or tropical seeds, rarely spiders, reptiles and other subjects, continually fall down. Entomologists, botanical scholars and some ornithologists continue to describe them. Not always “painless” cases: few years ago the sudden appearance of a little snake, not poisonous, in the elegant kitchen’s smoky chimney of a Milano middle-class well-known exponent, caused a stir. The etologist “in turn” calmed down the scared lady, but reported the snake to the Italian Society of Ethology (http://w3.uniroma1.it/sie).
The tiger mosquitoes, originated in the tropics, arrive in Italy as eggs or larvae inside residual water in recycled tyres, landed – these are the main theories – in Genova or Civitavecchia. When the first mosquito was reported, in 1997, Roma became the first example in Italy of an urban area’s extensive colonization. An active monitoring with more than 650 ovitraps has been developed by the Parasitology Laboratory of the Higher Institute of Health (ISS) on behalf of the City of Roma. To prevent their explosion and not to literally irritate their citizens-voters, other towns have previously dried ponds and fountains, to the detriment of aesthetics and urban freshness.
Scientific Europe responds with norms, calling them “invasive alien species”: all these “plants, animals, pathogens and other organisms that are not native to an ecosystem and can cause ecological, health and socio-economic harm. From XVII century to today, these species would have contributed almost 40% of all extinctions”.
Adapting to these rules and indications, which would ask the eradication or physical suppression of alien plants and animals, the National Institute for Wildlife of Ozzano in Emilia Romagna gasified, in the underground holes, some terrestrial American squirrels, such as Cip ‘n’ Dale, running wild again. The Italian (and animal lover) court condemned, at least in the first instance, the unfortunate investigator to a very, symbolic criminal conviction.
Many cities like Roma has been completely invaded for 6/7 years by parrots belonging to two species, perhaps three, the monk parakeet and the rose-ringed one. Apart from the change in bird singing at sunrise and sunset, it has become really difficult for the very useful woodpeckers that live in the city, to find a hole to nest. With their ability to drill the trunks and their long, hollow tongue, they devour the fat and appetizing longhorn family’s beetle larvae, which perforate trees as big woodworm. Woodpeckers save them from rotting or dying.
About beetles that eat trees, there is little that we can like about the palm red weevil. Yet the name is not the best, and in Latin it’s not better…
- The Rhynchophorus ferrugineus is a beetle, not only red, deadly parasite of many palm species.
- Originally from South East Asia, in the 1980s it reached the Arab Emirates and Egypt in the 1990s. From there it arrived in Italy: the first report is in 2004 by a nursery in Pistoia.
- The palm red weevil’s problem are the “puppies”. The larvae have a developed chewing apparatus: in hundreds they can dig tunnels, up to a meter long, in the trunk area.
- The phytophagus flies. Inadequate today’s solutions: chemical treatments, natural antagonists (spiders and other arthropods), entomopathogens (viruses and worms, infantry of the biotechnical struggle).
From the use of dogs to the use of pheromones, from the rate of perspiration to biochemical analysis (“they emit a noise not different from people in restaurants“), many solutions are being experienced. The “integrated fight methods” (chemical and biological) maybe are the best at the moment.
The most natural and convenient solution could be to eat them. In an article from the Epoch Times global journal, “11 cockroaches that a lot of people love to eat”, the first place is for the palm red weevil, the most popular in the tropics.
Infact, for 2 of the 7 billions people in the world, insects are a traditional dish: about 2.000 tasty species. Fao is already looking at the strong environmental impact of farm animals, the ever-growing human population and, on the other hand, the abundant protein-rich insect populations…
The red beetle has “a soy aroma and hazelnut flavor”: seeing (on Youtube) is believing (“Eating a palm weevil larvae”). The larvae can be eaten raw, roasted or fried: billions of fried beetles, rather than billions of potato lambs. Are the snails really less gross?
(Enrico Alleva and Alice Rinaldi on Pagina99, March 26, 2014)
Enrico Alleva is one of the most important ethologist in Italy, heading the Behavioral Neuroscience Department at the Rome Institute of Public Health.