Meanwhile, in our labs in Limburg and in the Provincial Institute for Hygiene (PIH) of the province of Antwerp, we are busy breeding and caring for the forest caterpillar hunter (Calosoma sycophanta). A few weeks ago, 100 adults and 300 eggs were brought here from Turkey. We are now going to test whether these beetles can be used in managing the oak processionary caterpillar in our region.
Currently, the beetles are still indoors in the lab, where they are bred and cared for. There they are now fed gypsy moth larvae, mealworms and wax moths. if all goes well, they will soon be put on a diet of oak processionary caterpillars (which are still too small at the moment). If they eat the caterpillars well, they are released outside in mid-May, at nests of the oak processionary caterpillar. We do the same with the larvae, once they are adults.
Since the forest caterpillar hunter is a native species in Belgium, which occurred here until about 15 years ago, we do not expect any damage to other native species. Rather, we expect the forest caterpillar hunter to contribute to restoring the natural balance.