I have always been fascinated by nature and environment and it is for this reason that I have decided to study Environmental Sciences and successively Biodiversity and Natural Ecosystems at University of Calabria (Italy). Through my years of studying, motivated by expert entomologists I developed a strong interest in Entomology. In particular, my research was focused on aposematic species such as Brachinus spp. and Anchomenus dorsalis (Coleoptera: Carabidae) characterised by visual and chemical anti-predatory strategies which are known to limit the attack by ambush and active predators (e.g., Podarcis sicula).
In April of 2014, motivated to explore new realities and to try new challenging experiences, I accepted a position as visiting researcher at Newcastle University (UK). Here, I have been involved in some studies exploring the anti-predator defences of some aposematic Carabid Beetles (Chlaenius velutinus, C.vestitus, Agonum viridicupreum) when they were attached by mantids. After this, I worked for six months in an Italian pest control company, where I developed practical knowledge about monitoring, prevention and management of some common household pests. In 2015, I collaborated with expert botanists and entomologists of the University of Calabria in a project based on the use of VOCs from Pinus halepensis as an alternative method to the synthetic insecticides to minimise the levels of some common insect pests (Drosophilidae, Pyralidae, Carpophilus, Pyralidae, Tephritidae etc.) in dried figs. I collaborated also in some studies to elucidate some ethological and ecological aspects of Cucujus spp. (University of Calabria) and in some experiments carried out to investigate visual and predatory responses of mantids to different characteristics of preys (morphology, speed, etc.; Newcastle University).
It is during this period that I have realised the need to improve my critical awareness of current problems associated with insect pests in Agriculture. For this reason, I attended a MSc in Integrated Pest Management at Harper Adams University (UK), developing a comprehensive understanding of the techniques, skills, and knowledge necessary for the application of methods related to Integrated Pest Management of insects, plant pathogens, and weeds in agricultural crops. In September 2020, I started a PhD at Harper Adams University. This project seeks both to develop an improved monitoring tool for the black vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus) as well as to develop biopesticide alternatives to the use of synthetic insecticides for the control of this pest in soft fruit and ornamental crops.
As starting point of my PhD studies, we investigated the importance of colour, shape and position of entrances on monitoring tool efficacy. Results indicate that dark, tall refuges with entrances around their base were preferentially entered by adult vine weevil. These results provide insights into refuge selection by adult vine weevils, which can be exploited to develop an effective monitoring tool for vine weevil adults as part of an integrated pest management programme (https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010080).