IOBC wprs Working Group Meeting
Pheromones for Insect Control in Orchards
The development of new pest
control methods is a necessity. The use of a number of well-established
insecticides has been restricted or banned within the past few
years. In addition, conventional insecticides meet increasing
criticism and dissatisfaction, due to health hazards, environmental
problems and insect resistance.
Mating disruption by pheromones
Insects use sex pheromones to communicate for mating. By permeating
the atmosphere with synthetic pheromone, olfactory communication
and mate-finding can be prevented. Pheromones are species-specific
and non-toxic, beneficial arthropods are not adversely affected.
The mating disruption technique is close to a commercial breakthrough,
but needs to become more economic and more reliable, especially
at high population densities.
Most important work is done by growers and pest control experts
who coordinate and survey the practical use of pheromones. Successful
applications require basic knowledge of dispenser materials,
active ingredients and their effect on insect behaviour, as well
as the population dynamics of the pest species. Another crucial
issue is the assessment of damage during the season.
Monitoring traps baited
with sex pheromones
Pheromone traps are an efficient, inexpensive and specific tool
to detect the presence of insects and to monitor their flight
period. Pheromone traps are available for virtually all economically
important lepidopteran species.
Pheromone lures are commercially available from a number of companies
- but these lures vary greatly in efficacy. This is due to a
varying degree of purity of the starting materials as well as
inadvertent changes in dispenser materials, lure composition
and dose from one year to the other. The Working Group is engaged
in the quality control of pheromone lures.
Other biological techniques
The mating disruption technique is available only for key species.
Insect pathogens, parasites and predators are efficient antagonists
for a range of insects, which complement and enhance the efficacy
of pheromonal methods.
Development through continued
In Europe, mating disruption
is used on ca. 30 000 ha against grape berry moths (Eupeocilia
ambiguella, Lobesia botrana) and on ca. 10 000 ha against
codling moth (Cydia pomonella). These applications demonstrate
the potential of the mating disruption technique for insect control.
However, these orchards and vineyards in Germany, Italy and Switzerland
represent only a fraction of the surface on which only conventional
insecticides are used. The practical use of pheromones is still
lagging behind our expectations.
Pheromone research, funded by the public hand over four decades,
has provided the basic knowledge for the development of new pest
control techniques. It is important to realize that only continued,
goal-oriented research will lead to reliable and more widespread
The practical implementation of pheromonal methods is certainly
a challenging task. It can only be achieved if communication
and cooperation between research groups, chemical industries
and extension organizations is improved.
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