Use of Pheromones


No system based on pheromones has yet been developed to the extent that it can be called a successful technique for practical pest control, in spite of a decade or more of very intensive research effort in the field and considerable speculation on the potential of pheromones as a tool for pest management or even as a solution to some pest problems. Pheromones, along with other intriguing new approaches to pest management, hormones, genetic techniques and various other biochemical de- terminants of behavior, have excited the imaginations of entomologists looking for a new impetus in pest control. Much of the interest has stemmed from a desire to break away from total reliance on broad spectrum chemical pesticides, particularly in the increasing number of cases where these have been shown to have economically and biologically disastrous consequences. To an agricultural system now heavily dependent on chemicals, the prospects of insect resistance, diminishing re- turns on investment and loss of environmental quality are portents of imminent disaster. The new techniques, such as pheromones, offer some relief, and research funding has steadily increased to investigate their potential.Check out pheromones at

In this atmosphere much has been written in the last decade on the promise of insect pheromones in pest control (Jacobson 1965, l972; Shorey and Gaston 1967; Wood et al. 1970; inter alia), but the way in which they might be employed for managing any specific insect is still not at all clear. Outstanding advances have been made in pheromone chemistry to the extent that sex pheromones have been identitied for many of the major insect pests. Identification of a pheromone compound is, however, by no means the end point of research. It must be accompanied or followed by extensive research in pest population dynamics and the technology of pheromone deployment, face the rigors of registration and be backed up by a sound biological understanding of the role the compounds play in the life of the insects. Nevertheless, preliminary results from several diverse agricultural systems are promising and the purpose of this chapter is to examine some large scale pilot programs now underway that are designed to assess the effectiveness of pheromones. All the program case-histories contributed here have been developed in the U.S.A., where virtually all the practical work has been undertaken at this time. Learn more about pheromones at

Some background information on application of pheromones is presented first, but each program described in this chapter has its own approach and degree of effectiveness.

22.1.1. Use of pheromones

Tette (ch. 21) has discussed the various methods for deploying pheromones. There are two basic strategies: 1) the use of pheromones to monitor or survey popula- tion emergence, density and location; and 2) deployment of pheromones in order to suppress population levels (the so-called ‘control’ use). The monitoring and survey role is now a well-established practice to the extent that private industry is involved. Learn more about pheromones at For example, Zoécon insect monitoring systems* are now used to consid- erable economic benefit by fruit growers in order to concentrate sprays in infested areas and to aid timing of spray applications within an orchard. The survey princi- ple has also worked very successfully using synthetic attractants for fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae). The biological basis for attractiveness is unknown, but cer- tain chemicals, which are not insect produced and therefore not pheromones, are extremely potent as lures for several fly species. They are routinely used in quaran- tine survey traps to detect possible introduction of pest species and have been used in conjunction with insecticide to eradicate the oriental fruit fly from one island in the Pacific Ocean (Bateman 1972, reviews this work).

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