Graduate student Leo
Camelo sets up a killing station for alfalfa looper moths in a potato field
plot. Click the image for more information about it.
story to find out more.
New Lures to Doom Crop-Damaging
Caterpillars By Jan
November 4, 2004
Enticing new lures developed by
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists could make backyard gardens, fruit orchards and crop fields places
of no return for pesky caterpillars.
The lures, derived from molasses and floral odors, tantalize
both male and female moths--the caterpillars' adult stage--with the promise of
nectar. Instead, the insects fly into the opening of a lure-dispensing trap,
never to escape.
Landolt, research leader at the ARS
Insects Research Unit in Wapato, Wash., and Connie Smithhisler, a chemist
there, developed the lures as an alternative to chemically controlling the
pests--loopers, cutworms, fruitworms, armyworms and corn earworms.
According to Landolt, most currently used lures act on the male
moth's sense of smell. These lures work by dispensing a synthetic version of
the female moth's chemical sex attractant, or pheromone, which the males find
irresistible. Saturating the air with synthetic pheromone confuses the male
moths, disrupting their ability to find mates. Such lures are also used to
monitor the pests' movements and whereabouts. But most lures offer no way of
keeping tabs on the female moths, according to Landolt.
He and Smithhisler overcame the problem by identifying, testing
and synthesizing blends of volatile compounds from molasses that attract both
sexes of moths. In another "unisex" lure formulation, the researchers combined
various floral scents, including those from Oregon grape, honeysuckle and Gaura
flowers. The molasses-derived lure is now commercially available for garden use
as the product SMARTrap. The floral based lures are in their second year of
field tests. In one trial, by Washington State
University graduate student Leonardo Camelo, who works at the ARS lab, use
of the floral lures in a "killing station" reduced the number of alfalfa
loopers by 75 percent.
about the research in this month's issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.