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PLAYING THE MATING GAME

James Miller, from US company Trécé, explains the key role that mating disruption devices play in an IPM program targeting stored product pests.

 

There is a high risk of infestation from Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella) or other moth species such as Cadra spp. and Ephestia spp. when storing or processing natural commodities such as grain, flours, or cereals. A food safety IPM program that targets these moths will in almost all circumstances benefit from incorporating mating disruption techniques, especially with food processing facilities often demanding reduced pesticide use.

Mating disruption is the use of a non-toxic synthetic replica of the female-produced sex pheromone to suppress, deny, or delay the mating cycle of adult Indian meal moths and other stored product moths. The synthetic pheromone attractants are released via a controlled release dispenser, such as Cidetrak from Trécé.

There are three principle modes of action for mating disruption: false trail following (or competitive attraction), sensory overload, and delayed mating.

False trail following, or competitive attraction, is often considered the most important mode of action. This behavioural response involves the male moth following intermittent trails or wisps of the synthetically produced pheromone plume from a mating disruption dispenser versus following the naturally produced pheromone plume or trails of the female or multiple females.

Sensory overload is a phenomenon a bit like when we smell an onion, which is at first very pungent but grows increasingly less apparent as our sensory system adapts or is overwhelmed. The sensory or receptor sites on the male moth’s antenna (think our nose) load up and are overwhelmed rather quickly with enough exposure from mating disruption pheromones that they are unable to sense and follow the natural pheromone trails of the female moth. This effect can last for several hours once the saturation point is reached.

 

Cidetrak IMM lure from Trécé

 

Stored product moths in high population abundance may eventually find each other and mate in a mating disrupted environment but are often delayed by days. The fecundity (ability to mate and reproduce viable larvae) of stored product moths is greatly reduced by each 24-hour period of delayed mating. Scientists have shown that these relative values can be a very significant mode of action in mating disruption.

A single Cidetrak Indian meal moth mating disruption dispenser disrupts mating of several species simultaneously. The best examples are Plodia interpunctella, Ephestia elutella, Cadra cautella, Cadra figulilella, and Ephestia kuehniella, which all share the same key pheromone attraction components. And these species are all controlled for a minimum of six months by the Cidetrak mating disruption controlled release dispenser.

A successful mating disruption program follows three critical steps: firstly, calculating the volume of the facility; secondly, selecting the application rate according to label directions, considering the abundance of insects; and thirdly, distributing the dispensers in a grid-like pattern throughout the treatment site. It is important to explain to clients that mating disruption products do not kill or eliminate pests like traditional insecticides. They work by modifying insect behaviour; less mating means fewer larvae, which means lower levels of infestation. The specifics of your program should be discussed with your client so that they understand the merits and usage of mating disruptors, and if/when other IPM methods may be needed for enhanced efficacy. When properly installed and managed, the Cidetrak program rarely, if ever, needs supplementing with insecticides.

A Cidetrak mating disruption program provides 6-12 months of longevity per application. While the initial cost may seem a little higher, the value can be shown through a comparison with your current control or management program. Many ULV insecticide treatments, IGR treatments, fumigations, discarded products, plant shutdowns, and other costs may be eliminated following the introduction of a successful mating disruption program.

Cidetrak pheromone controlled release dispensers are easy to use, require limited maintenance, and are suitable for use in sensitive accounts. They are a highly valuable component of any food safety IPM program.

More information on the Indian meal moth.

More information on other stored product pests.

 

James Miller, ACE, US Market Manager, PCO, Trécé Inc.