Landscape composition predicts the distribution of Philaenus spumarius, vector of Xylella fastidiosa, in olive groves
The meadow spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius (Hemiptera: Aphrophoridae; Linnaeus, 1758), is considered the main vector in the ongoing Xylella fastidiosa outbreak in the olive groves of southern Italy. Identifying the factors driving the spatial distribution of P. spumarius is of primary importance to determine X. fastidiosa infection risk in healthy olive groves. Here, we investigated the local and landscape factors shaping the occurrence and abundance of P. spumarius by sampling 182 olive groves over 2years in the Abruzzo region. We found the occurrence and abundance of the vector to be positively associated with the proportion of olive groves in the landscape and negatively with the cover of vineyards. Philaenus spumarius best responded to landscape processes at small spatial scale (125-250m) confirming the available information regarding its dispersal ability. At the local scale, soil management and pesticide application did not affect the vector probably because both interventions were not timed according to the vector biology and ecology. Our findings suggest that the management of agricultural landscape mosaics can drive the spatial distribution of P. spumarius. In particular, the landscape composition of the close surrounding of the olive groves may potentially influence the emergence probability of local X. fastidiosa epidemics through its effects on the vector spatial distribution and activity.