Sap Beetles Attractant Aids Control
March 3, 1997
Decisions on whether to apply insecticides to peach, apricot and other crops
might be made easier by keeping tabs on the weather and monitoring sap beetle
populations using traps containing synthetic versions of natural chemical
attractants. By cutting out unnecessary chemical use, growers could help
preserve the environment as well as their profit margin.
The attractants first synthesized and patented by scientists of
Agricultural Research Service were used
by entomologists of ARS and New South
Wales Agriculture in a five-year study in Australia.
Sap beetles are found throughout the world and spread fruit-degrading fungi
in a wide variety of crops. ARS scientists with other scientists around the
world are studying ways to use attractants for environmentally friendly control
of sap beetles in stored cacao and a wide variety of crops including figs,
plums, pineapples and corn.
One insect species trapped in the study was the confused sap beetle,
Carpophilus mutilatus, also found in the United States. This
species is believed to normally destroy about 10 percent of deglet noor dates
in California and sometimes much larger portions of the bigger and more
expensive medjool dates.
The Australian researchers found minimal insect damage to stone fruit crops
in years when lower-than-normal midsummer rainfall caused beetle populations to
plummet and remain low until harvest.
ARS is seeking more cooperators to speed development of sap beetle
attractants in the United States.
Scientific contact: Robert J. Bartelt, USDA-ARS,
National Center for Agricultural
Utilization Research, Peoria, Ill., phone (309)681-6237, e-mail