Title: MATING DISRUPTION RESEARCH: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
Submitted to: Annual Gypsy Moth Review Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: December 31, 2002
Publication Date: October 1, 2003
Citation: Thorpe, K.W. 2003. Mating disruption research: past, present, and future. Annual Gypsy Moth Review Proceedings.
Interpretive Summary: The gypsy moth is the most serious pest of forests of the northeastern United States. In 2002, over 500,000 acres were treated with the gypsy moth sex pheromone, disparlure, to prevent moths from mating. Unlike most other control methods available for this pest, mating disruption only affects the gypsy moth and therefore has no unintended environmental impacts. For this reason, and because it has been shown to be highly effective, it is a preferred tactic for use in slowing the spread of gypsy moth populations to the south and west. This paper reviews research efforts over the past 30 years to develop and refine methods to manage gypsy moth by disrupting mating. Current research efforts are discussed, and data from research conducted during 2002 which support the use of reduced application rates are presented. Potential future areas of research are discussed. The information presented in this report will help government agencies, gypsy moth control specialists, and other persons interested in gypsy moth mating disruption programs understand the history of mating disruption research and how it has led to the current state of gypsy moth mating disruption technology.
Gypsy moth mating disruptants were aerially applied to over 500,000 acres of United States forests in 2002. Multi-year evaluations of large-scale operational gypsy moth mating disruption efforts confirm that the tactic is highly effective at slowing the spread of advancing gypsy moth populations. The technology being used developed from research efforts that began in the early 1970s and continues to the present. Current research efforts have concentrated on the development of formulations with improved release characteristics that can be applied using conventional spray equipment, the feasibility of using reduced application rates and more efficient application patterns, and the development and testing of instruments to measure airborne pheromone levels. In 2002, a field test was conducted to determine the relationship between applied pheromone dose using Hercon flakes and the degree of mating disruption as measured by pheromone traps. No differences were detected between 15 and 6 gram/acre doses, but increased trap catches occurred at 1.5 g/acre and lower doses. Future gypsy moth mating disruption research will likely continue to focus on the development of improved formulations and more cost-effective application methods. Other likely areas of future research include further refinements of evaluation methods, studies of the effects of mating disruption on gypsy moth population growth and spread, and the development of more sophisticated models of the establishment and spread of isolated gypsy moth infestations.