Foiling the Cranberry
By Jim De Quattro
November 26, 1997
Folks sitting down to their
Thanksgiving meal on Thursday arent the only Americans who like
cranberries. Some cranberry lovers have six legs. But scientists could have a
frustrating surprise in store for them.
The cranberry fruitworm is the most destructive insect of this crop in the
United States and Canada. Though only about a quarter of an inch long, it
sometimes wipes out the entire crop in the cranberry bog.
Recently, scientists with the Agricultural Research Service obtained a
patent for a synthetic sex attractant, or pheromone, they developed to foil the
pests mating. The pheromone, a mimic of the female fruitworms own
natural mating chemical, strongly attracts hopeful males. But if the artificial
pheromone is deployed in a trap, the males are snared instead of free to pursue
the objects of their desire.
A pheromone trap could also give a grower a way to know if few or many of
the pests are present in the bog. The grower could leave off applying an
insecticide unless the number of trapped pests is high enough to show the crop
is truly threatened.
Great Lakes IPM, Inc., a company in Vestaburg, Mich., has applied to the
research agency for a license on the technology for the fruitworm pheromone.
Scientists developed it at ARS Yakima Agricultural Research
Laboratory in Washington state. It consists of two acetate compounds. One
is readily obtained from commercial sources. The other had to be painstakingly
synthesized, and the researchers say an economical way to produce it will need
to be developed.
Scientific contact: Constance L. Smithhisler, ARS Yakima Agricultural
Research Laboratory, Wapato, Wash., phone (509) 454-6550, fax (509) 454-5646,