Working Party on Poplar and Willow Insect and Other Animal Pests



 Paranthrene tabaniforis (Photo: FAO)  Apriona germari, pupa (photo: FAO)


Officers of the Working Party are:

 Report from 23rd Session

 During the 23rd Session, the Working Party held two technical meetings.

 Some insects and other animals pose a demonstrable threat to the world forests, including an increasingly one to both endemic and exotic Poplars and Willows. The Working Party can assist in increasing awareness and reducing the incidence and impacts of invasive insects and other animal pests for Poplar and Willow production and products trade. The aim of the Working Party is to provide international connectivity (networks, websites, publications, lists of experts, etc.) between researchers on, and producers of, Poplars and Willows through National Poplar Commissions, the International Poplar Commission and other relevant institutions (International Poplar Symposium, IUFRO).

 The constraints identified for the Working Party to be more effective, included: 

  • Too many insect problems, too few entomologists;
  • Low participation in activities, dependence on dedicated few;
  • Limited duration of research contracts limits voluntary work;
  • Lack of funding for research in this field; and
  • Shortage of taxonomic expertise.

 The opportunities identified included: 

  • Increased contact with IUFRO entomologists and pest management teams within countries (e.g. China) and regions to extract information of relevance for Poplars and Willows;
  • Broaden entomology contact lists, including through FAO and existing networks;
  • Better use of the IPC Working Party portals to improve communications and outreach; and
  • Identify and integrate common projects within or between Working Parties.

 The programme of action for the next four years included: 

  • Complete the Chapter on Poplar and Willow Insects and Other Animal Pests in the book “Poplars and Willows in the World”;
  • Strengthen the Insects and Other Animal Pests web portal on the IPC website (update list of entomologists and contact details, publications, main research areas, etc.); and
  • Conduct a joint meeting with the Working Party on Poplar and Willow Diseases, to coincide with the IUFRO International Poplar Symposium, Orvieto, Italy, September 2010.


Report from 22nd Session

During the 22nd Session of the IPC, the Working Party held two technical meetings during which eight scientific/technical papers on a range of insect pest threats and impacts were presented and discussed and several posters on these topics displayed and discussed in the poster sessions.

The Working Party provided international connectivity between Poplar and Willow researchers and producers because:

  • Insects and pest posed a demonstrable threat to Poplar and Willow culture;
  • Invasive insects posed an increasing threat to both endemic and exotic Poplars and Willows; and
  • Insects and pest posed a threat to production and trade in forest products

Achievements from 2000-2004 included:

  • Web version of the insect e-book on Insect Pests of Poplar (French version) completed and uploaded to the IPC website;
  • Final draft of 'The Damaging Insects of Poplars' (English version) completed;
  • Registration of the Working Party with ECOPORT (FAO) for insects of Poplars;
  • Survey of Salix pests conducted through entomologists and National Poplar Commissions; and
  • Networking between researchers and producers.

The results of a SWOT analysis of the current situation included:

  • Readily identified mission; and
  • Strongly recognized group.
  • Too many insect species, too few entomologists; and
  • Limited duration of research contracts.
  • Increased collaboration with IUFRO entomologists and pest management teams;
  • Nominate a Working Party member to report annually on key pests for the year;
  • Maximize use of the ECOPORT (FAO) portal;
  • Bi-annual 'newsletter' of activities of the working party.
  • Lack of research funding; and
  • Shortage of taxonomic expertise.
Lesson LearnedThe Way Forward
  • Need for collaboration with entomologists around the world.
  • Improve networks and communication; and
  • Identify and integrate common projects (within and between working parties).


The agreed programme of work 2005-2008 included:
  • Coordinate and prepare an Insect Pest chapter for the new Poplar and Willow book project, by December 2006 - Responsibility of Sylvie Augustin and John Charles, together with contributing authors;
  • Strengthen the Insect Pest Working Party portal on the IPC website, on-going - Responsibility of Sylvie Augustin and John Charles;
  • Complete the e-book of Insect Pests of Poplars and Willows (English version) and upload to the IPC website, by December 2005 - Responsibility of Sylvie Augustin and John Charles, in collaboration with FAO web master;
  • Update the address book and research area details of Poplar and Willow entomologists around the world, by December 2006 - Responsibility of Sylvie Augustin and John Charles;
  • Prepare a bi-annual 'newsletter' of research activities and insect news on Poplars and Willows from around the world, by December, 2005 - Responsibility of Sylvie Augustin and John Charles, in collaboration with Poplar and Willow entomologists around the world;
  • Prepare annual 'country' reports of key Poplar and Willow insect pests, by December 2005 - Responsibility of Jan Volney; and
  • Upload all outputs to the Working Party portal on the IPC website.

The Working Party on Poplar and Willow Insect Pests made the following recommendations:

  • Recognize that invasive insects and pests are posing an increasing threat to both endemic and exotic Poplar and Willow species;
  • Connect international researchers and producers through networks to monitor and contain the impacts of insects and pests on production and trade of Poplar and Willow forest products; and
  • Identify priority problems and collaborative approaches to address them through multi-disciplinary approaches across different Working Parties.

Reports from prior Sessions

This working party was created in 1957 after a number of Belgian, Dutch, French, Italian, and Spanish entomologists met in Paris. They pointed out the potentially harmful significance of insects, mainly xylophagous, to the development of modern poplar and willow cultivation and suggested that IPC set up a working party on pests, along the lines of the Working Party on Poplar and Willow Diseases. Since its establishment, the working party has met in the same spirit and with the same goals as those of the working party on diseases. It has not confined its work to insects but to other animal pests as well.

The amalgamation of the two working parties on insects and diseases has been discussed, most recently in 2000, but was not accepted by the members of the former. It was felt that the scientific disciplines of entomology and plant pathology were sufficiently different to justify the separate existence of the two working parties. However, all participants agreed that close collaboration between the two working parties, and with the Working Party on Willow Genetics, Conservation and Improvement, was valuable and should continue. Joint sessions of working parties were seen to be a good way of showing how collaboration worked in practice.

Cryptorhynchus lapathi, adult (Photo: FAO)Saperda carcharias (Photo: E.N.C.C.)Except for the presence of a new pest recorded from France (Anisandrus dispar) and the problems arising from associations between poplars and agricultural crops, there has been no serious attack by new insect pests for several years. In Europe, the most harmful insects continue to be primarily borers such as Cryptorrynchus lapathi, Saperda carcharias, and Paranthrene tabaniformis. In Argentina, considerable damage is being attributed to the defoliating insects Nematus desantisi and Hylesia nigricans, a sucker (Pterocomma populea), and a borer (Platypus sulcatus); rodent damage to young plantations has also been reported.

Anoplophora glabripennis (Photo: FAO)Three polyphagous borers: the Asian long-horned beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis (imported from USA), Apriona germari and Batocera horsfieldi, and two oligophagous: Saperda populnea and Cryptorhynchus lapathi are responsible for important poplar mortality in different provinces of China. Defoliators such as the Lepidoptera - Clostera anachoreta, Apocheima cinerarius and Lymantria - a re also important pests hosted by poplar species in China.

The working party has foreseen that the trend in phytosanitary protection of poplars and willows will be noticeable for the increased use of biological control methods (for instance, preparations based on Bacillus thuringiensis have been increasingly used for the control of Lepidoptera, and the control of Cryptorrynchus lapathi by nematodes), the breeding of pest resistant clones, and the increased use of environmentally less harmful insecticides (such as those containing diflubenzuron).

Anoplophora glabripennis, pupa (Photo: FAO)Whether the enlargement of the genetic base of the planting material and the reduction of the risk factor could be better achieved by planting clones in mixtures or through a mosaic of monoclonal plantations has been debated by the working party, which has also drawn attention to the need to increase basic research on resistance of the Salicaceae to pest damage. It has recommended that interdisciplinary work aimed at genetic improvement should be increased as well.

The choice of clones to be planted in a given environment has to be based not only on short-term economic considerations of fast growth but also on the need to satisfy other requirements, such as the maintenance of genetic diversity. By so doing, better protection will be offered against biotic or abiotic risks and better adaptation to local variability of the site.

Recommendations for the following future activities were adopted in 1996:

  • the improvement of methods of pest control in order to reduce threats to humans and natural ecosystems;
  • increased emphasis on methods for the prevention of the accidental introduction of new pests through germplasm exchange;
  • the harmonization of methodologies for research into genetic resistance to poplar pests in order to make results comparable between countries;
  • the encouragement of young scientists through a system of fellowships.

Notable achievements of the working party include:

  • the matching of species/clones with appropriate sites and the increasing use of resistant or tolerant clones has been recommended to reduce treatment with chemicals;
  • establishment of rules on the exchange of germplasm in an effort to prevent the introduction of new pests;
  • improved harmonization of methodologies between France and Italy through a European Community project initiated in 1993 to research poplar resistance and develop biochemical markers to monitor different insect pests;
  • harmonization of methodologies has been derived between France and China since 1997 to encourage collaboration among geneticists, biochemists and entomologists in the investigation of the genetic basis of resistance to poplar insects;
  • support to education of young scientists by the European Community and other donors.

An overview of internationally important insect pest of poplars was prepared in 1999 by L. Nef. It was based on the results of an enquiry conducted among member countries in 1993. The document is at present (February 2002) being expanded to cover insect pests of both poplars and willows and will be published in both electronic format and hard copy. It will be illustrated by photographs of major insect pests to aid recognition and will include control recommendations, including advice on the safe use of pesticides. Provision will be made for periodic updating by members of the working party.

Members submitted the following recommendations to the plenary session of the twenty-first session, which were adopted:

  • The recommendations made at the twentieth session in Budapest were re-affirmed which dealt with the improvement of methodology for pest control, the safe exchange of germplasm among countries, and the exchange of experiences among scientists.
  • The need was stressed for continued collaboration and cooperation among members of the working party and other entomologists working on poplar and willow insects, and the promotion of all aspects of the study of insects living in poplar and willow environments.
  • Research should continue to focus on all aspects of insect pests of poplars and willows, including breeding for pest resistance. It will also include the appropriate research interests in broader areas of the environmental and conservation, and international 'biosecurity'.
  • At future IPC meetings, joint sessions between the insects and diseases working parties and the breeding working party should continue to be held where appropriate. More time should be allowed for scientific presentations.
  • Activities for the next four years should include updating the electronic publication on the damaging insects of poplars (see above) to include international data; expansion of the publication to include Salix insects; and the establishment of a page on poplar and willow insects on the IPC Web site.


last updated:  Friday, August 1, 2014