Thousands of pine trees in northern Italy that provide much of the country’s famous pesto are being destroyed by a trio of deadly parasites that have no known treatment.
Italian authorities have been quietly fighting the Matsucoccus feytaudi insect, which is red-brown in color and measures between 1-2cm, since it arrived from France in the 1970s. The bug first began attacking trees in Liguria, before making its way south to Tuscany, where it is now combining with two more parasitic beetles to decimate entire pine forests. In the medieval town of Grosseto in southern Tuscany, authorities have earmarked 900 pines that must be felled to stop the spread of the insects.
The decline in pine nuts has resulted in a sharp increase in wholesale prices, which climbed to nearly $30 per pound earlier this year.