"Cologne" Attracts Beneficial Lacewing
Predators By Rosalie Marion Bliss
June 4, 2007
A new lure being developed by scientists with the Agricultural
Research Service (ARS) and their
collaborators could bring relief to growers trying to guard crops and gardens
against aphids and mites. The lure is a natural product that attracts
lacewings, a beneficial predator that enjoys devouring destructive aphids and
Chauhan and entomologist
Aldrich, with the
Affecting Insect Behavior Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., led the project.
Chauhan used the laboratory's patent-pending separation method to extract the
key compoundiridodialfrom catnip oil.
Laboratory tests showed that the iridodial prepared from catnip
extract matches the chemical structure of the male lacewing's pheromone. The
attracting vapor-like substance is emitted from thousands of glands that cover
the male's tiny abdomen. The separation method offers an economical way to make
large amounts of this insect "cologne" that attracts several lacewing species.
Organic farmers and growers purchase lacewings as eggs or larvae to
protect crops from aphids and mites. Results from a 2-year field study showed
that iridodial attracts both male and female lacewings that later produce
another generation of beneficial predators. So a commercial formulation based
on iridodial could relieve farmers of the need to repeatedly buy and release
beneficial insect larvae.
Iridodial is very potent; just 25 milligrams is sufficient to treat an
acre of land. Another advantage is that the attractant is environmentally
benign and remains active for five weeks, degrading slowly.
Chauhan is now working with Spokane, Washington-based
International to commercialize formulations that attract specific
about this research in the May/June 2007 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.