Pest categorisation of Elasmopalpus lignosellus
The European Commission requested the EFSA Panel on Plant Health to conduct a pest categorisation of Elasmopalpus lignosellus (Zeller) (Leipidoptera: Pyralidae) for the territory of the EU following interceptions of the organism within the EU and its addition to the EPPO Alert List. E. lignosellus feeds on over 70 species; hosts include cereals, especially maize, legumes, brassicas and a range of grasses. Seedlings of ornamental and forest trees can also be hosts. E. lignosellus is established in tropical and subtropical areas of North, Central and South America. Eggs are usually laid in the soil or on the lower stem of hosts. Larvae develop in the soil and feed on roots and stems causing stunting and yield losses. Plants for planting, rooted with growing media, or with stems cut close to the soil, and fresh vegetables harvested with stems, such as asparagus and cabbage, provide pathways for entry. Population development is favoured by dry and hot conditions (27–33°C). Adults fly and can be carried in air currents. Adults are recorded from temperate areas within the Americas contributing some uncertainty regarding the limits of its establishment potential in the EU. Although cultivated and wild hosts are distributed across the EU, impacts are likely to be confined to production areas on sandy soils around the coastal Mediterranean during hot dry years. Phytosanitary measures are available to inhibit the entry of E. lignosellus. E. lignosellus satisfies the criteria that are within the remit of EFSA to assess for it to be regarded as a potential Union quarantine pest.
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