(19)
(11)EP 3 763 208 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
13.01.2021 Bulletin 2021/02

(21)Application number: 20184785.2

(22)Date of filing:  08.07.2020
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A01M 1/20(2006.01)
A01M 3/00(2006.01)
A01M 1/00(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 08.07.2019 NL 2023458

(71)Applicant: Storix Boombeheer
5142 GC Waalwijk (NL)

(72)Inventor:
  • Stokwielder, Antonius Hendrikus Johannes
    Waalwijk (NL)

(74)Representative: Patentwerk B.V. 
P.O. Box 1514
5200 BN 's-Hertogenbosch
5200 BN 's-Hertogenbosch (NL)

  


(54)FILTERING DEVICE FOR NATURAL CONTROL OF PROCESSIONARY CATERPILLARS


(57) The present invention relates to a filtering device for natural control of processionary caterpillars, comprising a container, for containing a nest of the processionary caterpillar, wherein the container is provided with an entry opening, for placing the nest into the container; a closing element, for at least partially closing the entry opening; and at least one exit opening, allowing insects to exit the container; wherein the exit opening is dimensioned such that natural enemies of the processionary caterpillar, such as the tachinid fly or ichneumon wasp, can exit the container and such that at least some of the butterflies of the processionary caterpillar cannot exit the container.




Description


[0001] The present invention relates to a filtering device and a method for the natural control of processionary caterpillars.

[0002] Processionary caterpillars, and the oak and pine processionary caterpillars in particular, increasingly cause problem in society. The caterpillars are called processionary caterpillars because they move from tree to tree in procession, one after another. Oak processionary caterpillars also move to relocate from their nests towards the canopy of the tree, to feed there. Pine processionary caterpillars move large distances over ground, and also nest in the ground. Reproduction of the processionary caterpillars starts with an egg. These eggs evolve into caterpillars. After a certain period of time these caterpillars pupate, and a pupa is formed. This pupa evolves or transforms into a butterfly or moth, which when reproduces creates eggs which sets in motion a new cycle.

[0003] The caterpillars have dangerous stinging hairs, dangerous at least for humans and animals, which cause irritation and itching. De bodies of the caterpillars are covered in relatively long hairs, wherein at the abdomen of the caterpillar these hairs are shorter, arrow-shaped and provided with barbed hooks. These hairs at the abdomen detach easily from the body of the caterpillars. These hairs cause a skin rash, allergies and conditions to the respiratory system, the lungs and the eyes, potentially even causing blindness and other serious injuries.

[0004] It is a goal of the present invention to provide in a natural solution to control the processionary caterpillars.

[0005] The present invention thereto provides a filtering device for natural control of processionary caterpillars, comprising a container, for containing a nest of the processionary caterpillar and their natural enemies, wherein the container is provided with an entry opening, for placing the nest into the container; a closing element, for at least partially closing the entry opening; and at least one exit opening, allowing insects to exit the container; wherein the exit opening is dimensioned such that natural enemies of the processionary caterpillar, such as the tachinid fly or ichneumon wasp, can exit the container and such that at least some of the butterflies of the processionary caterpillar cannot exit the container.

[0006] A nest of the processionary caterpillar typically is a collection of at least one, and preferably multiple caterpillars and/or (later on) pupae of the processionary caterpillar and their natural enemies. Typically a nest contains about 150 pupa, although sizes of nests vary strongly. In nature, natural enemies or predators of the caterpillar predate on the caterpillars (for instance on the eggs or caterpillars), such that a number of these pupa contain natural enemies of the processionary caterpillar or will bring forward natural enemies instead of processionary caterpillars. These natural enemies use the caterpillars to reproduce themselves, and parasite on the caterpillars. In nature the inventors found that about 72% of the nest of the caterpillar is parasitized upon, depending on the natural surroundings. So, the nest, when allowed to evolve, hatch or transform, will produce butterflies of the caterpillar, as well as their natural enemies like ichneumon wasps or tachinid flies.

[0007] These natural enemies preferably are allowed to hatch and grow up in a protected environment, in order to boost the population of natural enemies or predators of the processionary caterpillar. The container provides them with shelter and protection. Once hatched, transformed or evolved and rested, the new natural enemies can exit the container through the at least one exit opening. By placing the nest into the container, the natural enemies also present in the nest are protected from their predators and natural enemies, as well as from being trampled or run over by humans, cars and land mowers, for instance when they fall onto the ground in winter.

[0008] The nest, containing natural enemies of the processionary caterpillars to be hatched, is thus contained in the container, and protected inside the container from bird, other parasites or hostile weather conditions. It also prevents them from falling onto the ground, being trampled or harmed otherwise. By protecting the pupae of the natural enemies of the caterpillars, and also protect the natural enemies that hatch from the nests, the amount of natural enemies can be increased, since more natural enemies hatch.

[0009] From the same nest also butterflies of the processionary caterpillar will hatch, which butterflies are typically (way) larger than the natural enemies described above. The exit openings, through which the (smaller) enemies can leave the container are dimensioned such that the larger butterflies cannot escape the container, or at least prevent at least some of the butterflies to escape. After hatching, and typically within a day or several hours, the butterflies will die inside the container, interrupting the life cycle of the processionary caterpillar. The present invention thus aims to increase the number of natural enemies or predators of the processionary caterpillar and reduce the number of processionary caterpillars, which reduction over time increases due to the increase of natural enemies to naturally control the processionary caterpillars.

[0010] The ability to filter the butterflies from the natural enemies is a result of the difference in shape and size between the two. Typically, the body of the oak processionary butterfly is about 3 millimetres wider compared to the body of its natural enemy. As an example, say the butterfly is about 8mm wide, and the natural enemy is about 5mm wide. By dimensioning the exit opening such that it is about 5,5 or 6mm wide, the natural enemies are able to leave through the opening, but the butterfly is not.

[0011] The, at least one, exit opening is for instance formed by a mesh with multiple exit openings or a perforated plate. A mesh is relatively easy to produce wherein the mesh size, or the size of the openings in the mesh, can be controlled. On top, a mesh provides relatively many exit openings for the natural enemies of the caterpillar, while preventing outflow of butterflies from the container.

[0012] The exit openings preferably have a size, dimension, diameter or width of 0,5 to 7,5mm, more in particular between 1,5 and 7mm, more in particular between 3 and 6 mm and more in particular between 4 and 6 mm. The size of the openings should at least be such that natural enemies or predators of the processionary caterpillar should be able to leave the container, at least to some extent, while preventing butterflies of the processionary caterpillar to leave the container, at least to some extent. The filtering device thus filters the natural enemies that hatched from the nest from the butterflies of the processionary caterpillar. Compared to butterflies of the processionary caterpillar the natural enemies have a relative small width, such that when the exit openings are relatively narrow, tachinid flies or wasps can leave the container, but butterflies cannot. Butterflies, especially of the processionary caterpillar, have relatively wide torsos or middle sections, in particular compared to natural enemies, allowing to filter them from each other with the appropriate exit opening selection.

[0013] The same exit openings could potentially also be used for natural enemies of the processionary caterpillar to gain access to the nest to parasite upon the nest, the eggs and/or the pupa in the nest.

[0014] The closing element is for instance provided with a lock, to keep the closing element in the closed condition. Locking the closing element prevents that the container is opened by accident or through though weather conditions, and thus prevents mainly butterflies or the nest from leaving the container unintentionally.

[0015] The filtering device may also comprise an attachment, for attaching the device to or onto a tree, wherein the attachment for instance comprises an attachment beam, which beam is to be attached to the tree as well as the container. The beam may for instance be arranged to be attached vertically to the tree, in particular along the longitudinal direction of the tree, wherein preferably the beam is thicker on top compared to the bottom, such that the container, compared to the tree, is slightly tipping over. Alternatively the container may be dug into the ground at least partially. Alternatively, an eyelet of provided, for instance on top of the filtering device, and a hook or a cable is attached to the tree. By attaching the eyelet and the hook or cable, the filtering device can be hoisted into the tree.

[0016] The use of a beam provides a relatively easy way to attach the container to a tree. Additionally it is possible to provide the beam to the tree ones, after which for instance multiple containers or filtering devices can be attached sequentially, without further damaging the tree. By reducing the thickness towards the bottom the filtering device is somewhat slanted, allowing water and rain to flow from the filtering device naturally, preventing water or rain to collect onto or into the filtering device.

[0017] The container may be provided with a bottom, at least one side wall and a roof, wherein the entry opening and the closing element may be provided in the at least one side wall, and wherein preferably also the exit opening may be provided in the at least one side wall. The nest may for instance be located onto the bottom, wherein the side wall(s) and the roof contain the nest together with the bottom.

[0018] The container may be substantially made of wood, preferably FSC certified, or a mesh. Wood has the benefit that it is a natural product, relatively easy to process. Mesh has the advantage that this material is already provided with a (large) number of openings to achieve the filtering action proposed by the invention. Mesh also allows a proper balancing of moisture inside the nest. The dimension or size of the mesh should be aimed at the function of the filtering device, and should thus prohibit butterflies of the caterpillar to go through the openings to at least some extent, and allow natural enemies or predators to go through.

[0019] It is also envisionable that the container is mainly made of (sheet-) metal, or perforated and non-perforated metal plating. This provides a sturdy structure, which may last a long time and provide reliable action over time.

[0020] In an embodiment the container is mainly cylindrical, and made of perforated plate, for instance metal plate. Again this provides a robust device, capable of withstanding tough weather and protect the nest(s) inside.

[0021] The container, and in particular the bottom and the roof of the filtering device, may be made of plastic, in particular of recycled plastic. Recycled plastic reduces the environmental load the plastic may have, and can also be recycled again when the bottom and roof of the filtering device can no longer be used accordingly or need changing.

[0022] The container and/or the at least one side wall may at least partially be permeable to air, to allow proper ventilation of the filtering device.

[0023] The filtering device may comprise a second side wall, at least partially surrounding the side wall, or at least partially surrounding the exit opening(s). The second side wall is also provided with openings, to allow ventilation of the filtering device. The second side wall is preferably arranged at a distance from the side wall, and in particular arranged at a distance from the exit opening(s) of the filtering device. This way, an intermediate space is created between the exit opening(s) and the second side wall. The openings of the second side wall are typically dimensioned such that the natural enemies, that emerged from the container, can enter the intermediate space but cannot leave the intermediate space through the second side wall. In the intermediate space reservoirs of water and food, such as sugary water, can be arranged, to feed and strengthen the natural enemies such as the tachinid fly. This intermediate space allows for a collection of the natural enemies, such that the number of natural enemies that emerged from the container can be counted and registered. After counting, the second side wall can be removed temporarily, to free the natural enemies from the intermediate space, and start the process again. By counting the natural enemies the efficiency of the filtering device can be determined, and the natural control process can be adjusted accordingly.

[0024] In an embodiment of the invention the entry opening is provided on the top of the container, and the closing element that closes the entry opening is the roof of the container. The closing element may be connected to a number of (mainly horizontally extending) plateaus, for instance via a central substantially vertical rod. Nests of the processionary caterpillar can be arranged on these plateaus, and having multiple of these increase the number of nests that the container may hold. A further benefit of this arrangement is that the nests can easily be removed from the container by lifting the roof of the container, since in the same motion the plateaus and the nests on the plateaus can be removed from the filtering device.

[0025] The present invention also relates to a method for natural control of processionary caterpillars, comprising the steps of: a. Placing an at least partially closable container, for instance in a tree or in the ground; b. Placing a nest with pupae or caterpillars of the processionary caterpillar, as well as pupae of their natural enemies, into the container; c. At least partially closing the container and allowing the nest to transform, evolve or hatch; d. Allowing natural enemies of the processionary caterpillar, such as the tachinid fly or ichneumon wasp, to exit the container; and e. Preventing at least some of the butterflies of the processionary caterpillars to escape from the container.

[0026] The method may further comprise the step of leaving the nest in its natural environment for a period of time, typically until the pupa stage, and then placing the nest into the container. The period of time preferably is the period of the stage of the caterpillar and preferably at least two weeks of the stage of the pupa. This allows natural enemies or predators to attack or parasite upon the nest. For instance the ichneumon wasp parasites the eggs or caterpillars of the processionary caterpillars. By not burning or removing the nests, but placing the nests into containers it allows more of the natural enemies or predators to hatch. The butterflies of the processionary caterpillars are kept contained in the container, while the natural enemies can leave populate the surroundings. These subsequently parasite on the next line of processionary caterpillars, and also parasite on other species like the winter moth (Operophtera brumata) and gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), preventing further plagues of these moths and butterflies. The present invention aims to keep the impact on the ecosystem very low, without requiring extermination or poison.

[0027] In step a) the container may be placed facing north. Such orientation allows for a relatively natural mimicking of preferably climate conditions in the container, ventilation of the container and prevents excessive raining into the container.

[0028] In step a) the container may be placed such that the container is angled forward, compared to the vertical, wherein the container is preferably angled 1 to 5 degrees of the vertical. This slanting results in a natural dewatering of the device, preventing water to accumulate into or onto the container. Alternatively the container may be hoisted into a tree, for instance by providing an eyelet on top of the filtering device, attaching another eyelet or hook into the tree and running a rope or cable between them.

[0029] The method may further comprise the step of counting the number of natural enemies that emerged from the container in an intermediate space, and freeing the natural enemies after counting.

[0030] Although the invention has been described with relation to processionary caterpillars, the invention is also applicable to the natural control of other potential plagues in the same manner. Other plagues or harmful species include for instance the brown-tail moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea).

[0031] The invention will be elucidated on the basis of non-limitative exemplary embodiments shown in the following figures. Herein:
  • Figure 1 schematically shows a perspective view on a filtering device according to the present invention, in an opened state;
  • Figure 2 schematically shows a perspective view on a filtering device according to the present invention, in an closed state; and
  • Figure 3 schematically shows a butterfly and a ichneumon wasp, as well as a mesh with exit openings according to the present invention.


[0032] Figure 1 and figure 2 schematically show a view on a filtering device (1) for natural control of processionary caterpillars. The filtering device (1) comprises a container (2), for containing a nest (3) of the processionary caterpillar, wherein the container is provide with an entry opening (4) for placing the nest (3) in the container (2), and a closing element (5) for closing the entry opening (4).

[0033] The container (2) is provided with a bottom (6), side walls (7) and a roof (8), wherein the entry opening (4) and the closing element (5) are provided in a side wall (7). A portion of two of the side walls (7) is made of a mesh (9). The openings in the mesh (9) form exit openings to allow insects to leave the container (2). The openings are dimensioned such that natural enemies or predators can leave the container (2), but also such that butterflies of the processionary caterpillar cannot.

[0034] Figure 3 schematically shows an image of a butterfly (10) of the processionary caterpillar and ichneumon wasp (11), as well as a mesh (9) with exit openings (12). The butterfly (10) is larger than the ichneumon wasp (11), and the butterfly (10) cannot go through the exit openings (12), while the wasp (11) is not hindered or stopped by the limited dimensions of the exit openings (12). The dimension of the mesh is only schematically indicated in the figure. The mesh size should ideally be dimensioned such that the butterfly, also with its wings retracted, cannot go through the exit openings (12), while the wasp (11) can.

[0035] It is envisionable that the container is provided with dedicated openings, such as holes or a perforated plate, instead of a mesh or meshed wire.


Claims

1. Filtering device for natural control of processionary caterpillars, comprising:

a. A container, for containing and protecting a nest of the processionary caterpillar and their natural enemies, wherein the container is provided with:

i. An entry opening, for placing the nest into the container;

ii. A closing element, for at least partially closing the entry opening; and

iii. At least one exit opening, allowing insects to exit the container

b. Wherein the exit opening is dimensioned such that natural enemies of the processionary caterpillar, such as the tachinid fly or ichneumon wasp, can exit the container and such that at least some of the butterflies of the processionary caterpillar cannot exit the container.


 
2. Filtering device according to claim 1, wherein the at least one exit opening is formed by a mesh with multiple exit openings.
 
3. Filtering device according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the exit opening or exit openings have a dimension, diameter or width between 3 and 6 mm and more in particular between 4 and 6 mm.
 
4. Filtering device according to any of the preceding clams, wherein the closing element is provided with a lock, to keep the closing element in the closed condition.
 
5. Filtering device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the device also comprising an attachment, for attaching the device to or onto a tree, wherein the attachment comprises an attachment beam, which beam is to be attached to the tree as well as the container or an eyelet, to hoist the filtering device into a tree.
 
6. Filtering device according to claim 5, wherein the beam is arranged to be attached vertically to the tree, in particular along the longitudinal direction of the tree, wherein preferably the beam is thicker on top compared to the bottom, such that the container, compared to the tree, is slightly tipping over.
 
7. Filtering device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the container is provided with a bottom, at least one side wall and a roof, wherein the entry opening and the closing element are provided in the at least one side wall, and wherein preferably also the exit opening is provided in the at least one side wall.
 
8. Filtering device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the container is substantially made of wood or a mesh.
 
9. Filtering device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the container and/or the at least one side wall is at least partially permeable to air.
 
10. Method for natural control of processionary caterpillars, in particular using a device according to any of the preceding claims, comprising the steps of:

a. Placing an at least partially closable container, for instance in a tree or in the ground;

b. Placing a nest with pupae of the processionary caterpillar as well as pupae of their natural enemies into the container;

c. At least partially closing the container and allowing the nest to evolve, transform or hatch;

d. Allowing natural enemies of the processionary caterpillar, such as the tachinid fly or ichneumon wasp, to exit the container; and

e. Preventing at least some of the butterflies of the processionary caterpillars to escape from the container.


 
11. Method according to claim 10, wherein in stap a) the container is placed facing north, for instance with at least one exit opening facing north.
 
12. Method according to claim 10 or 11, wherein in step a) the container is placed such that the container is angled forward, compared to the vertical, wherein the container is preferably angled 1 to 5 degrees of the vertical.
 
13. Method according to any of claim 10-12, comprising the step of leaving the nest in its natural environment until pupa stage is reached before placing the nest into the container.
 




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