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Pheromone-mediated mating disruption: A powerful tool in insect pest management

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Pheromone-mediated mating disruption is an environmentally friendly integrated pest management tactic. In theory, pheromone-mediated mate finding will be disrupted by atmospheric treatment with synthetic sex pheromone and result in reduced mating and reproductive potential of the pest population. It is unlikely that a universal mode of action for mating disruption exists. The mechanisms by which it works include neurophysiological effects, direct competition, camouflage and shifting of rhythms of response and will vary by target insect species, pheromone formulation and ecological setting of the treated area.

Mating disruption has been successfully deployed against insect pests of agronomic and horticultural crops and forests. It may prove useful in the management of pests that are resistant to conventional insecticides. However, field studies have illuminated factors such as weather, cropping systems, crop location, and population density and behavior of the target pest that influence the success of mating disruption programs. In addition, there is some research to suggest that insects could develop resistance to pheromone-based mating disruption because of selection pressure on the prevention of mate finding. Overall, pheromone-mediated mating disruption can be a useful pest management tactic especially when applied on an area-wide basis in conjunction with existing compatible pest control techniques.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2006

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