The vine moth (Lobesia botrana) is an insect that can cause severe damage to vines, albeit to a varying extent that it is heavily conditioned by weather. It attacks grapes in various periods (with flowers and cluster size at different stages of maturation), producing 2 to 3 generations per year.
The damage results in both qualitative and quantitative production losses, both direct and indirect, in that it also predisposes grapes to rot.
This pest is traditionally combated with insecticides, but even repeat treatments can be ineffective in cases of massive infestation.
In order to reduce insecticides or even eliminate them altogether, given the risk of vineyard ecosystem imbalances in the long term resulting from reductions in the populations of useful insects which act as competitors to harmful insects, growing interest is currently being taken in the mating disruption technique. This involves distributing sex pheromones in extremely high concentrations throughout the vineyards to disorientate male moths, thus preventing them from recognising female signals. The consequent reduction in mating reduces subsequent generations, rendering this pest completely harmless.
The mating disruption method is costly but very much in line with the principles of sustainability, which are a priority for Franciacorta viticulture.
In 2014, the total planted area treated using the mating disruption technique spanned approximately 500 hectares, increasing to around 2000 hectares in 2021. The work was co-ordinated right from the outset by the Franciacorta Consortium in conjunction with Centro Studi Agrea, thus progressively consolidating this partnership over the years. Since 2021 the Consortium has issued twice weekly bulletins containing detailed information on the presence of this pest (and other potentially damaging vine pests) on the strength of surveys carried out in the field and analysis together with Agrea technicians. This system provides useful information to winemakers on real vine moth numbers and confirms the efficacy of the mating disruption method.