In 2004 field experiments, we compared the effectiveness of various deployment densities of 0.1-ml paraffin wax drops containing 5% pheromone versus Isomate M-Rosso “rope” dispensers for disruption of Grapholita molesta (Busck). Treatments were evaluated in 0.05-ha (12-tree) plots of ‘Delicious’ apples receiving regular maintenance according to growers’ standards, but not sprayed with insecticides. The application densities of 0.1-ml wax drops were 3 per tree (820/ha), 10 per tree (2,700/ha), 30 per tree (8,200/ha), and 100 per tree (27,300/ha). Wax drops were compared with 3-ml dispensers of pheromone-containing paraffin wax or Isomate M-Rosso ropes at 1.8 per tree (500/ha) and untreated control plots. Treatments were applied before the start of each of three moth generations. Orientational disruption, as measured by inhibition of moth captures in pheromone-baited delta traps, was greatest in plots that received 100 drops per tree (99.2%) and 30 drops per tree (99.4%). More than 55% of tethered, virgin females were mated in control plots after one night of deployment. However, no mating was recorded at the two highest application densities of wax drops where orientational disruption of traps exceeded 99%. Mating ranged from 7 to 20% among the other treatments, including Isomate rope dispensers. G. molesta males were observed closely approaching pheromone dispensers in plots containing ropes and wax drops, documenting competitive attraction between synthetic pheromone sources and feral females. The majority of observed G. molesta males approached within 60 cm of wax drops or pheromone ropes and departed within 20 s by flying upwind. Thirty wax drops per tree yielded higher mating disruption of G. molesta than did Isomate M-Rosso dispensers deployed at the recommended rate of 500/ha (1.8 per tree). Measurement of release rates confirmed behavioral data indicating that paraffin wax dispensers would need to be applied once per G. molesta generation in Michigan. Paraffin wax drops are a promising technology for moth mating disruption. They are cheaper and easier to produce, require less total pheromone per annual application, and produce better mating disruption at appropriate deployment densities compared with Isomate M-Rosso dispensers under high G. molesta population densities. The cost-effectiveness of this approach will require an appropriate mechanized applicator for wax drops.
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