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Research Project: Cranberry Genetic Improvement and Insect Pest Management

Location: Vegetable Crops Research

Title: Multi-species mating disruption in cranberries (Ericales: Ericaceae): Early evidence using a flowable emulsion

item Steffan, Shawn
item Chasen, Elissa
item Deutsch, Annie - University Of Wisconsin
item Mafra-neto, Agenor - Isca Technologies, Inc

Submitted to: Journal of Insect Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/11/2017
Publication Date: 4/10/2017
Publication URL:
Citation: Steffan, S.A., Chasen, E.M., Deutsch, A.E., Mafra-Neto, A. 2017. Multi-species mating disruption in cranberries (Ericales:Ericaceae): Early evidence using a flowable emulsion. Journal of Insect Science. 17(2):54. doi: 10.1093/jisesa/iex025.

Interpretive Summary: The cranberry fruitworm is the top insect pest for Wisconsin cranberry growers. The blackheaded fireworm, while less damaging than the cranberry fruitworm, is also a perennial threat. These two pests necessitate significant control efforts each year, but controls are limited to a handful of insecticides. Currently, there are no proven pesticide alternatives available for cranberry growers to use against their most significant insect pests. In the study presented here, we developed and tested a pheromone-based mating disruption system for these pests. This work represents the first field deployment of a multi-species mating disruption system in cranberries, and is the first use of SPLAT® as a pheromone carrier in cranberries. Our data indicate that the multi-species pheromone blend within the SPLAT® carrier provided significant evidence of mating disruption for both the cranberry fruitworm, A. vaccinii, and the blackheaded fireworm, R. naevana. We document decreased numbers of moths caught in SPLAT®-treated beds, in both years of the two-year study. This suggests that males of each species suffered reduced mate-finding capacities. As further evidence of mating disruption, in 2014 we observed a significantly decreased number of damaged berries in the beds treated with SPLAT®. Impact: This work represents the first field deployment of a multi-species mating disruption system in cranberries, and is the first use of SPLAT® as a pheromone carrier in cranberries. Altogether, these findings are strong evidence of the potential for a viable mating disruption system in US cranberries. A viable mating disruption system will permit growers to effectively control some of their most troublesome, damaging pests while using less insecticide.

Technical Abstract: Pheromone-based mating disruption has proven to be a powerful pest management tool in many cropping systems, helping to reduce reliance on insecticide applications. However, a sustainable mating disruption program has not yet been developed for cranberries. In the cranberry system, two of the major perennial insect pests are species whose sex pheromones have been isolated and manufactured commercially for pest monitoring. These insects are the cranberry fruitworm, Acrobasis vaccinii Riley (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) and blackheaded fireworm, Rhopobota naevana Hübner (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Previous work has shown that mating disruption is promising for R. naevana management, but carrier and delivery technologies have remained unresolved. The present study examined the suitability of a novel paraffin emulsion to serve as a pheromone carrier within the cranberry system. In 2013 and 2014, we tested a two-species blend targeting A. vaccinii and R. naevana by treating sections of commercial marshes and comparing trap-catches to untreated marsh sections. The pheromones were loaded into a paraffin emulsion referred to as SPLAT® (ISCA Technologies, Inc) and deployed within the cranberry canopy. In 2013, applications of SPLAT® resulted in successful disruption of R. naevana and promising disruption of A. vaccinii. In 2014, the A. vaccinii pheromone load was increased, and this two-species blend not only disrupted both moth populations, but also significantly reduced berry infestation. The results of this study suggest that multi-species mating disruption using SPLAT® represents a potential method of non-insecticidal pest control for some of the most important pests of Wisconsin cranberries.