Fragrant Fix: Smell-Based Pheromones Offer Pesticide-Free Bug Control
Sep 30, 2015 10:25AM
Semios, a Vancouver, Canada, provider of real-time agricultural information and precision pest management tools, has been given U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval for the first aerosol pheromone-scent products shown effective in disrupting the mating of the codling moth and oriental fruit moth by attracting males to the females’ scent in spots devoid of mates. Pheromones are natural chemicals that many animals use to communicate within their species.
Unlike pesticides that kill a wide variety of insects, each pheromone targets a single pest species, leaving beneficial pollinators like bees and predators such as ladybugs unconfused and unharmed. One dispenser is hung in each acre and nothing is sprayed directly on the fruit. Pheromones don’t affect any other organisms, including humans, and can be used by both organic and conventional growers.
David Knight, owner of Knight’s Appleden Fruit, Ltd., in Colborne, Ontario, has used the Semios system for two seasons as part of a regulatory trial. He says, “I could see this technology becoming completely mainstream in our industry in the next five or six years.”
Traditional insecticides are expensive to buy and time-consuming and laborintensive to apply. Because they’re toxic, workers can’t enter the orchard for a specified number of days after spraying. Knight adds that fruit growers that rely heavily on pollinators to produce their fruit are also keenly aware of the environmental risk posed by pesticides and welcome a natural and less costly alternative; only tiny amounts are needed.
Kirk Hillier, Ph.D., a biologist at Canada’s Acadia University, in Nova Scotia, who studies how insects communicate with pheromones, confirms that such scents have also been shown to be effective in both controlling a wider variety of agricultural and household pests and monitoring insects destructive to forests.
Source: Canadian Broadcasting Company