PLoS ONE published a new article written by Chemical Ecology group
Exploitation of Insect Vibrational Signals Reveals a New Method of Pest Management
Mating disruption of insect pests is a strategy largely adopted in IPM tactics, as a tool considered both target-specific and environmentally friendly. With the aim to prevent the pest reproduction, doses of synthetic pheromone are released into the environment to prevent males to locate virgin females. This method has with the years caused a drastic reduction of the use of insecticides in areas like Trentino Alto Adige where this method is largely adopted as a common control strategy of grape and apple moths. The problem is that many insects do not communicate via pheromones but by other communication means, such as substrate-borne vibrational signals. This is the case of most Hemiptera, like for instance the leafhopper Scaphoideus titanus that is a vector of the grapevine phytoplasma disease Flavescence dorée. The team of Fondazione Mach, in collaboration with the groups of Agricultural Entomology of the University of Pisa and of Neurobiology of Insects of the National Institute of Biology of Ljubljana, proved that mating disruption can be effectively applied also to vibrational communication systems. Semi-field and field tests were conducted to demonstrate how the insertion of disruptive vibrations into grapevine tissues is able to interrupt the communication, and thus to prevent the mating of S. titanus pairs. A device, consisting in a mini-shaker attached to the grapevine supporting wires, was calibrated to diffuse a special “disturbance noise”, modified after the natural noise typical of male-male rivalry interactions. By broadcasting specific frequencies, the insect channels of communication are occupied. As a final result, more than 90% of tested pairs was prevented to mate, opposed to 20% of not disturbed controls.
Read here the entire article.