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8-3 FB Gypsy moths
by David Sparks, Ph.D., click here for bio
Program: Idaho Agribusiness Today
Date: August 03, 12
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Moths are a whole lot easier to control than other insects. Bark beetles along with all kinds of other invasive and destructive insects continue to wreak havoc with production agriculture. It would seem that we should be able to develop some form of birth control that would fool these species into eradicating themselves. A pheromone is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of attracting members of the opposite sex, even at the human level. So I asked Idaho Department of agriculture entomologist Jodie Ellis if we could develop a pheromone as a source of birth control for insects. She said not so fast. Maybe for a moth but not so much for other insects. “One of the best examples of that is making disruption in gypsy moths. This is something we see out East when the Gypsy moth populations would cycle up and get real high. What they would do is take the female scent, the thing that attracts the males, they would make it artificially and they would go out and blast it throughout an area. So the males are flying around trying to find the females that this scent is coming from. Well they end up just being confused. They cannot find a living female because they are inundated with this pheromone. So they die without mating and the population goes down. You can do that with moths. Moths are very pheromone dependent. But the beetles, no. They have short range contact pheromones, they are not even aware of the pheromones until they actually touch them.
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