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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Temperate Tree Fruit and Vegetable Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Develop management tools and strategies for wasp swarms at air traffic control towers.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Optimize chemical attractants, identify pheromones, and determine type, density, and location of traps to remove wasps. Documents Reimbursable agreement with Dept of Air Force, DOD.

3. Progress Report:
The work summarized in this progress report relates to objectives number 1 and 3 in the Project Plan for 001-00D: 1. Develop new knowledge of the behavior, genetics, systematic, physiology, ecology, and biochemistry of the insect pests of apple, pear, and cherry, and their natural enemies, that will aid in the discovery, development, and application of management methods and technologies. 3. Discover and develop chemical attractants for codling moth, fruit flies, pear psylla, and other insect pests of temperate tree fruits and their natural enemies. This work relates to those objectives because of the depredations of paper wasps on cherry fruits and grapes, and the stinging hazards of social wasps for farm workers picking fruit. Wasps at air traffic control towers were sampled to determine the species makeup and to determine where males and females were at when swarming about the towers. We found that Polistes metricus and Polistes bellicosus were the dominant species at towers in South Carolina and Georgia. Most wasps inside towers were female, while wasps outside of the towers were primarily males. Because the problems with the wasps are well defined in time and space, they may be managed by trapping or baiting if a suitable attractant is available. A set of known wasp attractants were evaluated at several sites in the southeast U.S. to determine their attractiveness to P. metricus and P. bellicosus. At best, there was a weak response to acetic acid with isobutanol, a chemical blend that is attractive to Polistes aurifer and Polistes fuscatus. It was concluded that there is a need for a novel chemical attractant for these species of wasps. Subsequently, large numbers of paper wasps of interest were captured in traps baited with a combination of a wine and a vinegar. Subsequent work aimed to determine which chemicals in these materials are responsible for that attraction, so that a synthetic lure may be produced that mimics the original material. A laboratory olfactometer assay was used to determine responses of male and female Polistes bellicosus and Polistes metricus to wine, vinegar, ethanol, and acetic acid. A combination gas chromatograph and electroantennal detector (EAD) was used to determine which volatile compounds from a wine a vinegar can be detected by the antennae of the wasps. Two field experiments were conducted to evaluate wasp attraction (captured in traps) to wine, vinegar, and sets of volatile chemicals from these materials. It was determined that the original response of wasps to wine and vinegar is due principally to chemicals in the wine (not the vinegar), including ethanol. Wasps were trapped with a set of EAD-active wine chemicals, but more were trapped with wine indicating that more work needs to be done to optimize the lure. This problem could be due to chemicals that are detected by the antenna but are deterrent, and to an inadequate formulation for ethanol in traps. Subsequent testing is planned to evaluate the roles of possible deterrents in chemical blends tested, and to provide a more stable controlled release system for testing of the wine chemicals in the field.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 2/23/2016
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