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New Beetle Attractant Controls White Grubs / February 15, 2001 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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New Beetle Attractant Controls White Grubs

By Linda McGraw
February 15, 2001

A new lure being developed by Agricultural Research Service and cooperating scientists could bring relief to people trying to guard their lawns and crops against root-damaging white grubs. White grubs--the larvae of beetles in the family Scarabaeidae--are important pests of turfgrass, sugarcane, corn, small grains, vegetables, flowers, trees and nursery crops throughout the United States and around the world.

The research focuses on a lure that attracts and kills the adult beetles before they have a chance to lay eggs. By preventing an infestation of white grubs, this new environmentally friendly technology may greatly reduce the need for treating large areas with insecticides, according to ARS entomologist Juan D. Lopez, Jr., in College Station, Texas. ARS researchers there are working with a scientist at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in Dallas.

This new attractant is of special interest because no effective attractants are currently available for monitoring and controlling several species of white grubs, according to Lopez. The attractant was developed under a cooperative research agreement with Trece, Inc., of Salinas, Calif.

The scents, which smell like food to the beetles, lure adult insects into a trap or into a treated area where they are captured or can feed on low-dose insecticides. A feeding stimulant entices them to eat enough of the mixture to kill them. With attract-and-kill technology, adults are targeted even though the larvae do the most damage to root crops. The goal is to keep adults from reproducing, thereby reducing succeeding generations.

The new attractant can be used either as part of a monitoring program or as a direct control. Using monitoring alone, farmers and other growers can know when and where the pest is breeding to produce damaging offspring. This permits more efficient use of fewer pesticides in area-wide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs.

USDA and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station have applied for a patent on the adult beetle attractant. A similar attractant for corn earworm moths was patented in June 2000.

ARS is the chief scientific research agency for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contact: Juan D. Lopez, Jr., Areawide Pest Management Research, ARS Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center, 2771 F&B Road, College Station, TX 77845; phone (979) 260-9530, fax (979) 260-9386, j-lopez@tamu.edu.

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