Proceedings IOBC wprs Symposium,
Technology Transfer in Mating Disruption
IOBC wprs Bulletin Vol 20(1),
Witzgall P & Arn H (eds) - copies
Insects use sex pheromones
to communicate for mating. Pheromones elicit strong behavioural
reactions at minute amounts, they are species-specific and non-toxic.
By permeating the atmosphere with synthetic pheromones, olfactory
communication and mate-finding can be prevented.
The mating disruption technique had a head start. Soon after
the discovery of the first lepidopteran sex pheromone in the
late fifties, it was postulated that it should be possible to
use synthetic pheromones for environmentally safe insect control
- although virtually nothing was known about the chemistry and
biology of pheromones at that time. Research techniques considered
essential today, such as gas chromatography, electrophysiology
or wind tunnel bioassays, were not available. The sex pheromones
of economically important species and their behavioural effects
had yet to be identified; synthesis, purification, and controlled
release techniques had to be developed before practical applications
came into reach.
In Europe, the grape berry moth was the first species to be controlled
by mating disruption on a commercial scale. To mark this event,
an IOBC meeting was held at Neustadt Wstr., where the field development
had been made. Ten years after, the Montpellier meeting gives
evidence that the mating disruption technology has reached maturity.
Pheromones have become an integral part of many pest control
programs and, in some cases, may even become more effective than
The Neustadt meeting of 1986 manifested the need for a better
understanding of the "behaviour of moths and molecules".
Since then, respectable progress has been made with the industrial
synthesis of pheromones, controlled-release technology and the
measurement of airborne pheromone. Growers and extension organisations
have gained considerable know-how in applying the mating disruption
technique. But even today, the lack of knowledge on aerial dispersal
and mode of action of mating disruptant chemicals is the most
serious obstacle for further developments.
The 37 years of research since the synthesis of the first insect
pheromone have laid the ground for practical applications. A
concerted effort of the scientific community, industry and growers
must now be made to consolidate these achievements and to establish
mating disruption as a reliable and cost-efficient technique.
Our success will determine the public interest in further research
in the field of insect olfactory communication and chemical ecology