Thursday, February 21, 2013

A New Approach To Stopping Harmful Insects

syntheticpheromoneResearchers are exploring the use of pheromones which carry important messages between individuals within a species as an integrated pest management tool.

They have been using synthetic sex pheromones on the tomato pinworm. This confused the male pinworm to the point that he didn’t know whom to mate with and became impotent. This crashed the pinworm population and let the tomato harvest flourish.

The beauty of using this approach is that the chemicals aren’t poisonous, the males show no signs of developing resistance and they only harm the pinworm.

While synthetic pheromones can’t be patented, commercial developers are supporting it with research funds by focusing on the distribution system. In most cases, one treatment is all that’s needed for season-long control.

Researchers are now using this approach to target the mountain pine beetle which has been destroying vast pine forests in the US. Four dollops per tree will deter infestation.

(Reported Onearth, Winter 2012/2013)

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