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Environ Health Perspect. 1976 Apr;14:133-44.

Utilization of pheromones in the population management of moth pests.


Pheromones are substances emitted by one individual of a species and eliciting a specific response in a second individual of the same species. In moths (Lepidoptera) generally females lure males for mating by emission of a sex attractant pheromone comprised of either one or more components. Since 1966 the identification of the pheromone blends of many moth pests has allowed investigations into the use of these messengers for population manipulation. Pheromone-baited traps may be used both to detect pest presence and to estimate population density, so that conventional control tactics can be employed only as required and timed precisely for maximum effectiveness. Attractant traps also can be utilized for direct population suppression when the traps are deployed at a density effective in reducing mating success sufficiently to achieve control. A third use pattern of pheromones and related compounds is disruption of pheromone communication via atmospheric permeation with synthetic disruptants. The behavioral modifications involved in disruption of communication may include habituation of the normal response sequence (alteration of the pheromone response threshold) and "confusion" (inability of the organism to perceive and orient to the naturally emitted lure). Disruption of communication employing the natural pheromone components as the disruptant has been most successful, although nonattractant behavioral modifiers structurally similar to the pheromone components also may prove useful. Possible future resistance to direct pheromone manipulation may be expected to involve the evolution of behavioral and sensory changes that minimize the informational overlap between the natural pheromone system and the pheromone control technique.

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