COVID-19 global pandemic has without any doubt affected many aspects of our daily lives. Research is not an exception and many activities of the FF-IPM project, especially field tasks, were suspended when the lockdown was imposed in many European countries in the spring ― a very important period for the collection of data. In Spain, the lockdown was initiated on March 14, 2020, and normal activity was resumed on June 21.
Image 1 Pitfall traps used to monitor and characterise the activity of ground-dwelling predators (Spain
As a consequence, ongoing project activities linked to “Development and enhancement of tools and methods for the management of FF” (WP4) and “Enhancement of methods and strategies for the management of FF” (WP6) were abruptly stopped and could only slowly recuperate in late May. Pitfall traps used to examine and characterize the activity of ground-dwelling predators (WP4; Image 1) could not be monitored for more than two months, same as the field devices used to assess the fate of mature FF larvae from burial into the soil until adult emergence (WP4; Image 2).
Image 2 Effect of management of the ground cover used in our tests
Likewise, the FF trapping net set at the two case studies near Valencia (eastern Spain) (WP6; Image 3) could not be managed and supervised during that period. The overall effect of this long interval is a discrepancy in the baseline data that we were collecting during this first year of the FF-IPM project.
Due to the seasonality of data collection, it will not be possible to meet this goal until next year (2021) and this will no doubt impact additional activities relying on the results of these working packages. This unforeseen adversity will likely result in a minimum 6-month delay in the delivery of the scheduled deliverables. Should additional outbreaks occur, the delay would doubtless be longer. This should be an opportunity for all the researchers involved in FF-IPM to be creative and try to get the best from the existing results and finally produce the high-quality results expected with the minimum of delay.
Image 3 Traps used to monitor FF populations (Spain) - (A) Decis trap, (B) Tephritrap, (C) Jackson trap
Prof. Josep A. Jaques, PhD is a full professor at Universitat Jaume I de Castelló (UJI) and has almost 30 years’ experience in agricultural entomology. He serves in the FF-IPM project’s Executive Board.