Pine Processionary Caterpillar
The Processionary Moth
The Processionary Moth (PM) is one of the most destructive species to pines and other
conifers in the countries of southern Europe, including the Alpine countries. The urticating hairs of the caterpillar larvae cause harmful reactions in humans and other mammals. The need to contain and limit the spread of the PM is regulated by various European, national and regional laws. Efforts to control the PM have been made in the last years both by public administrations and private players in different countries. Mechanical removal of the nests, treatments with insecticides sprayed from aircraft often resulted to be high-risk for all species and just temporary solutions. Moreover, in recent times, these approaches have been strictly limited by sanitary laws.
A New Solution
Today you can find a new solution: Fitobiotech s.r.l. This project will promote interoperability as it integrates the use of robotic, informatics and biotechnology to control and eliminate the spread of the PM. This will be done by using drones equipped with injectors, able to allow the approach to the nests and to inject selected bio-insecticides inside them, any height limits, in a controlled way, without risks related to the drift of nebulization. The reduction of an important health risk will benefit at once forests, people and animals while safeguarding the Alpine and peri-Alpine landscape and reducing intervention costs.
A New Solution for Data Maps
We provide tools and web applications specially created for the management of spatial data. This structure allows us to identify the nests of the Pine Processionary, map them, report them, geo-refer them, coordinate them with spatial data and organize intervention strategies.
What makes the project innovative?
The use of drones that operate directly; the identification of a product that partially degrades the stinging silk and that in the future could do it entirely; the intervention process based on the injection of bioinsecticides directly inside the nest. The company’s distinctive feature is the use of plant protection products and bioinsecticides, reducing costs and limiting risks to operators and ecosystems.
The qualities that make us unique
The qualities that make us unique are made of simple ideas. This is the new challenge of technology dedicated to nature. We delete the health risk as this structure allows us to operate at a distance. Our systems are flexibles and can easily evolve and adapt. We carry out biotechnological research at the University of Biotechnology department Insubria. Our vehicles allow operations on large green areas, without height limits. Each intervention is targeted and timely.
The main objective of the project and the expected change the project will make to the current situation
Fitobiotech stands out on the market for the design, production and use of innovative drones, specifically designed to perform direct interventions. The first prototype (the “X8800 Stinger”) was created in the winter 2017/2018 and is able to allow the approach to the nests and to inject, in a controlled way, the phytosanitary, without risks related to the drift of nebulization.
The main goal we expect is the creation of new robotic prototypes increasingly autonomous and a biotechnology that allows to completely degrade the silk. All this to reduce and limit the diffusion of the moth.
The approach we plan to take to tackle the identified challenges
We have recently started, together with the Department of Biotechnology of Varese, an experimental phase of holistic nature, dedicated to the deactivation of the stinging silk, the main weapon of defense of the Pine Processionary, the main cause of the health risks related to its diffusion. Specifically, were performed analyzes on cell behavior in relation to the degradation of the urticant silk. Today we have identified a natural active ingredient that partially degrades the silk. We would like to continue on this path to identify the right active ingredient that can completely degrade it.
Some technological details
Also we robotized completely the pumping and injection system and we improved flight stability with new GPS systems.