Beetle leaf beetle has saved millions of Europeans from allergies

Scientists have evaluated the effectiveness of biological control of common ragweed and found that beetle the leaf beetle Ophraella communa have already saved 2.3 million people in Europe are allergic to the pollen of this plant. Field observations have shown that when eating leaf beetle amount of pollen in the air decreases by 10 percent, and in Italy during the observation period it fell by as much as 82 percent. In many European countries the climate and growing season is comfortable enough to Ophraella communa spread after the ambrosia and regulate its growth. The results of a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

As a result of globalization around the world each year an increasing number of biological invasions. Species not characteristic to the local ecosystem and create problems for endemic species and are detrimental to the economy. Plants of the genus Ambrosia originally lived in North America, but has invaded more than 30 countries of Europe. So, in the end of XX century they reached the South-Western regions of and around 2005, appeared in Moscow. The pollen of these plants, especially the so-called common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), is a strong allergen, which affects millions of people. However, to assess complex damages from this plant is not easy, and until recently, scientists had only fragmented data from several countries — Switzerland, Italy and Slovenia.

Scientists under the leadership of Shaffner URSA (Urs Schaffner) of the Swiss branch of CABI has conducted ecological-economic assessment of the impact of common ragweed on human health in European countries and explore the prospects of a regulation of this kind by using its natural predators, the beetle Ophraella communa.

Experts have processed the data obtained from 296 sites for the monitoring of pollen that is located in 42 European countries (27 EU countries as well as Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland). From 2004 to 2012 were observed for common ragweed, unchecked by natural enemies and consumers.

In 2013, Europe accidentally fall beetle the leaf beetle Ophraella communa — native inhabitant of North America, that feeds on leaves of ambrosia. People assume that he was in Switzerland with goods from China. Data from 2013 to the present time indicate the growth of ragweed in the presence of a concument who uses it for food. In addition to counting the number of pollen in the air, scientists have requested data about allergies and medical expenses in medical institutions in all countries where the sample area.

It turned out that the cost of treatment of allergies caused by ragweed pollen, much higher than previously thought. The authors of the study estimated annual spending in Europe alone for this purpose at 7.4 billion euros, whereas the previous studies included a value of 6.9 billion dollars a year worldwide. People suffer seasonal allergic rhinitis, asthma and temporarily lose the ability to work, which is also reflected on the economy. Only from such an Allergy until 2013, has suffered about 13.5 million Europeans.

With the advent of the beetle leaf, the situation has changed: on average, the sites, the amount of pollen in the air has decreased by 10 percent, and in the Northern part of Italy, the figure fell by as much as 82 percent. 5 years after the colonization of territories with populations of Ophraella communa , the number of people experiencing Allergy symptoms and are forced to seek medical help on this occasion, was reduced to 11.2 million people — intentionally caused biological control of invasive plant species has already helped more than two million inhabitants of Europe. Chinese scientists described the successful experience of the deliberate introduction Ophraella communa, in the fight against the spread of ragweed they have made significant progress. Scientists hope that the situation in Europe will continue to improve thanks to this listednew beetle.

Among the biological methods of struggle do not, and around the world are developing new drugs for people with severe course of allergic symptoms. For example, in early 2020, the United States finally approved a new drug for the treatment of peanut Allergy.

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