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phylloxera (GB)
phylloxera (F)
fillossera (I)
filoxera (ES)
filoxera (PO)
druifluis (N)

This most dangerous of all Rebschädlinge (bot. Dactylosphaera vitifolii) is an insect of the order plant lice (Homoptera), suborder aphids (Aphidina) and family of dwarf lice (Phylloxeridae). The phylloxera attacks exclusively the grapevine, sucks on the leaves and / or the roots, releasing their saliva into the juice paths, which Gallen (Growths), which then serve as oviposition and food. Due to different behavior patterns compared to the Rebstock Different types are suspected. The German biologist dr. Carl Börner (1880-1953) distinguished between a less dangerous langrüssligen and a harmful kurzrüssligen phylloxera. From the first infestation it lasts by following effects like nutrient deficiency and root rot usually a maximum of three years, until the vine dies and is completely destroyed. The French scientist Jules Émile Planchon (1823-1888) gave the phylloxera in their identification in France in 1868 the aptly named "Phylloxera vastatrix" (devastating louse).


The life cycle is strongly affected by the vine species, namely Europäerrebe or Amerikanerrebe dependent. It takes place either in the form of a complete cycle or continuous cycle between vine (above ground) and root (underground) or only on leaves (only above ground) or only roots (only underground) and thus shortened cycle. There are parthenogenetic (Virgin production from unfertilized egg cells) and sexual generations. According to the site of infestation, a distinction is made between the yellow-green 1.5 mm leaf reed (Gallicola = leaf gall louse) and the yellow-brown 1.35 mm root burge (Radicicola = root louse). The second is much more dangerous because it is the Xylem damages, leading to water and nutrient deficiencies. The infestation of leaves is usually not life threatening. In the vine species, there are some that form both leaf and root galls, the root gall, however, no galls, and the leaf gall, but not root galls. The group of perfect resistant Vine species forms neither leaf nor root galls.

Blattreblaus - leaf galls and mother louse with Eigelege

In Europe, only the propagation through the root lice usually proceeds, while the full cycle takes place only in America. Only in the aboveground cycle offspring with new genome, as there are only males and females. In the root lice, there are only females that reproduce parthenogenetically and lay 600 eggs. Young hatchlings do not immediately attack the roots, but hibernate deep in the soil. In the spring, the roots are pierced with the trunk (half the length of the body) and the saliva is introduced into the tissue. As almost panic defense reaction of the vine to form nodular thickening growths. These lice feed on the lice, they absorb them. The pest can only live through the bile, because the hard roots themselves could not be directly gnawed.

Phylloxera - root blight with egg plant

In Central Europe, there are four to six phylloxera generations per year. The young lice of the last generation (Hiemalen) form the hibernation form. Towards the end of summer, nymphs develop, larvae with wings. These leave the soil and develop after their last moulting to winged phylloxera (Sexuparae). The ability to fly, they can spread even over long distances quickly in other vineyards. They lay small male and large female eggs on the perennial bark of the vine, from which the sexless sex animals hatch. These can not absorb food and have only the task of copulation during their only eight-day life.

The mated females lay a single fertilized olive-green wintering in a bark rind. In the spring, it grows the Maigallenläuse, which only in American vines species (Vitis vinifera is resistant to the leaves) form bile and lay up to 1,200 eggs. This will give birth to two larvae after eight to ten days. Some of them, especially on younger leaves, re-create leaf galls. They multiply parthenogenetically with six to eight generations per year. The others are leaf-born root lice and seek out the vine roots in the soil. There they complete the subterranean development cycle or start it anew. An overwintered phylloxera with 1,000 eggs yields around 25 trillion offspring by the autumn. The enormously complex cycle or life cycle of leaf blue shrubs and root shrubs is shown in the graph:

Phylloxera - Life Cycle (Geisenheim)

Nodosities and tuberosities

There is a distinction between two types of roots and thus different effects of the infestation. With less infestation, the young, un-wooded root tips are first pierced. The resulting root galls are called Nodositäten, They occur not only in the European, but also in most American vine species, but are relatively harmless and do not lead to annihilation. With larger infestation but also the older, woody roots are pierced and as a result the tuberosities educated. These are much more dangerous because they can penetrate much deeper into the vascular system of the roots. Certain American vine species are immune to both, the most resistant Vitis cinerea,

Resistance of certain grape species

The rhizomes of some American vines are resistant to phylloxera because they have adapted over millions of years. The resistance is due to three circumstances. The vines react passively at infestation at the roots, forming little to none at all Gallen and thereby deprive the pests of the basis for an increase. Secondly, the medullary rays in the roots are much narrower than in the European vine, so that the knots can penetrate only superficially. And thirdly, a protective cork fabric forms at the point of tapping. This prevents the ingress of moisture, bacteria and mushrooms, which in the non-resistant vineyards to root rot and thus complete annihilation leads. Very well, but also the American vines above ground, but this is not nearly as devastating and causes major damage only in case of heavy infestation. Only under particularly favorable climatic conditions are Europeans Vines are affected by the Blattgallenlaus, therefore it has little meaning in Central Europe. However, most of the American vines are susceptible to the Blattgallenlaus as well hybrids,

Origin and discovery of phylloxera

The phylloxera is native to North America, where it occurs in many areas on the east coast. Here she was in 1854 by the entomologist Asa Fitch (1809-1879) and first described a year later as "insignificant insect" with the name "Pemphigus vitifolius". This harmless-looking description was correct, because actually the phylloxera is an opportunity pest. Only through larger vineyards is a wide distribution up to an epidemic possible. This situation was by no means given on the east coast of North America. Here, the insect could not cause much damage, as the number of Wild vines In one place was always limited, the soil conditions do not favor an increase and also many of the American vines are more or less resistant to the roots. In contrast to other natural events that occur without human intervention, the spread of phylloxera was only possible through massive human intervention in the ecosystem with large-scale monocultures. But even that would not have been enough for a worldwide spread, but was only caused by the trade in contaminated vines.

Occurrence in Europe

Just before the phylloxera came in 1845 about England the real mildew to Europe - the first of the four terrible Danaer gifts from North America. About five to ten years later, the phylloxera followed, a precise date is of course no longer to determine, because the damage was visible only a few years later. From the year 1850, American vines were in large numbers to England and France than ornamental vines and for cross-breeding purposes and with these unnoticed also phylloxera introduced to Europe. But this was already done earlier and the phylloxera has existed in America from time immemorial. So why had not she turned up in Europe much earlier? There is a very simple explanation. In the sailing times, the pest had not survived the journey, which lasted about ten weeks and longer, while in the short time of 10 to 14 days, it crossed the sea unscathed with the fast steamboats.

Around the year 1858 (according to other sources only 1863) was at Arles in the Provence an inexplicable vine dying and first a fungal disease or frost damage supposed. In the end, even God's wrath and punishment were the cause of the sins of time. When you dug up the dead vines, you found that the entire root system had practically disappeared. Due to the tiny nature of the insect, it initially remained unrecognized as a cause. In 1868, a commission with the vineyard owner Gaston Bazille (1819-1894), the horticulturist Félix Sahut and the physicist and botanist Jules Émile Planchon (1823-1888), who quickly succeeded in identifying the cause of the mysterious death of the vine. However, the origin of the pest from North America remained completely unclear for some time.

The phylloxera spread in the meantime slowly, but steadily in almost all European countries almost exclusively over it contaminated Rebmaterial. After Austria-Hungary she arrived in 1867 (after another source 1872), as the director of the Klosterneuburger Weinbauinstituts August-Wilhelm Baron von Babo (1827-1894) received from Germany American vines. In Germany, it was first discovered in 1874 near Bonn in the garden Annaberg. But only in 1902 the pest came to Würzburg, 1907 to the Moselle and finally in 1913 to Baden. The other stations were Portugal in 1871, Turkey in 1871, Switzerland in 1874, Italy in 1875 (South Tyrol only in 1901), Spain in 1878 and Greece in 1898. By the beginning of the 20th century, according to rough estimates, about 75% of Europe's vineyards were destroyed.

A disaster of unimaginable proportions, because viticulture had great economic importance in Europe, in Italy, for example, lived 80 percent of the population of it. The material damage was equal to that of the First World War. But also the New world was seriously affected, because imported from France and infected with phylloxera reached 1873 after California and thereby a few years later paralyzed the flourishing viticulture. Finally, the pest in 1877 also after Australia, as well as 1885 after Algeria. New Zealand and South Africa was introduced and was now represented on all continents. The common danger forced the countries to cooperate, which was started in 1877 with an "International Phylloxera Conference". Between the German Reich, France, Switzerland, Austria-Hungary and Portugal in 1881 a Reblauskonvention was decided with rules for the import and export of vines and border controls. At this time, the life cycle of phylloxera was already explored and well known:

Phylloxera - development cycle - Humboldt University Berlin around 1880

Measures against the pest

As early as 1870, the French Government formed a commission, Louis' most prominent chairman from 1885 onwards Pasteur (1822-1895) and after him Jules Lavalle (1820-1880). One set a price of 20,000 francs and later increased even to an incredible 300,000. Over the course of seven years, a total of 700 proposals were submitted, of which approximately half were actually tried. However, the price never had to be paid out. Treatments were made with silkworm manure, liquid manure and crayfish extract, scraping off the bark or planting various defense plants such as hemp or valerian. Modest partial successes were due to flooding the vineyards with water and the so-called Kultural method, that is, bottom injections with carbon disulfide achieved.

The problem was that even recognized scientists started from false and sometimes adventurous assumptions and represented them passionately. The entomologist Victor Antoine Signoret (1816-1889) suggested that phylloxera was not the cause but the effect. And the well-known wine-growing specialist Dr. Jules Guyot (1807-1872) suspected the cause in too sharp pruning, Even as abstruse and completely ineffective methods as that of the Roman wine-growing authors Pliny the Elder (23-79) borrowing a dead toad under each vine, tapping the vineyard floor to drive the insect into the sea, injecting electricity into the ground, and pouring white wine into the vines were unsuccessfully attempted.

Phylloxera fighter

Already in 1869 Léopold had Laliman (1817-1897) from Bordeaux recognized that some American vines were immune to phylloxera (but this is also attributed to others). At a congress in Beaune then the above-mentioned Gaston Bazille suggested the method, the tops (Edelreiser) of Europeans Vines on the bases (rhizomes) of reblausresistenten American vines graft. This was by Gustave Foex (1844-1906), who suspected as early as 1868 that phylloxera had come from outside Europe. This was confirmed by Jules Émile Planchon (1823-1888) through a study trip to America in 1873. He met there with the entomologist Charles V. Riley (1843-1895), who proved that the French insect was identical to the American one. Riley was one of the first to be grafted onto American rootstocks. But this will also be the botanist Georg Engelmann (1809-1884) awarded. Of course, whoever was actually "the first" can no longer be ascertained and all those listed can be confidently regarded as saviors of European viticulture before phylloxera.

Phylloxera - Portraits of Charles V. Riley, Pierre Viala, Émile Planchon, Georg Engelmann

the solution of the problem

From 1873 to 1876, millions of documents were shipped mainly to France and other countries, with most out Missouri originated. Many of them were creations of the breeder Hermann Hunter (1844-1895). In practice, however, many of the American rhizomes did not tolerate the European soil, especially the limestone soil rare in America in vineyards. First, the Vitis riparia used as a base, but which was unsuitable for lime soil. That's why she was with the Vitis berlandieri crossed. Finally, in 1887, the French Ministry of Agriculture passed a Pierre Viala (1859-1936) delegated to the United States to find suitable Unterlagsreben. The development took decades and long faced two competing camps, the "Sulfurists" who vowed to fight with chemicals, and the "Americanists" who favored refinement.

At the end of this directional dispute, the refiners finally prevailed. There have been many in the past documents developed for the different requirements. An important criterion is a high resistance to phylloxera. As finishing This method was and still is the only solution. But it was very expensive, because at that time there were over ten billion vines in France alone. Therefore, one also tried with moderate success, the problem through intersections from American with Europeans Vines or American vines to solve among each other and to use as an alternative for the winemaking. Because the American or French hybrids were insufficiently resistant to rain, and in addition, wines of certain species had the unpleasant for European taste Foxton,

Countries / areas without phylloxera

During the first successes of refined vines, the third catastrophe broke out over European viticulture. For paradoxically, the documents introduced for the salvation before the second catastrophe in 1878 became the wrong one mildew imported from North America. And as a sad conclusion of the truly dark century for viticulture was in the early 1880s, the black rot imported from America. It took the longest time for phylloxera, until the effective measures had prevailed in all countries. Some countries have been spared, at least in part, in certain areas. These are for example some greek islands in the Aegean (Crete, Paros, Rhodes, Santorini, Cyprus), as well as Afghanistan. Argentina. Armenia. Australia. Chile. China. India. Canary Islands and Pakistan,

Especially vineyards with sandy soil are not attacked because the pest can not exist there. Likewise, the insect can not survive at high altitudes. Single vineyards or vineyards with ungrafted There are vines in many countries, including Germany and Austria. But processing is common everywhere today, it is estimated that this accounts for 85% of all vines worldwide. The phylloxera is still not completely defeated, because in the 1990s, a new variant (Biotype B) occurred in America, which has already destroyed many vineyards in California and New Zealand. Big problems caused in the early 1960s in California the recommendation of the University of California (Davis) for the pad AxR 1 that was too weakly resistant to rain. All vineyards had to be cleared again.

Additional information

More extensive information in connection with phylloxera are in addition to the above references (hyperlinks) especially in the keywords American vines. Europeans Vines. hybrids. Nodositäten. Pre-Phylloxera. tuberosities. Underlay & underlay vine and finishing contain.

Blattreblaus: By Joachim Schmid, Geisenheim , Self-photographed, CC BY 3.0 de , Link and Link
Wurzelreblaus: By Joachim Schmid, Geisenheim, - Self-photographed , CC BY 3.0 de , Link and Link
Lifecycle: Research Institute Geisenheim, B. Loskill

Draft cycle: By Unknown, Humboldt University Berlin, GFDL 1.2 , Link

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