Semiochemicals help control important pests in organic strawberry production

A new study published in the journal Pest Management Science showed that semiochemicals can effectively manage one of the most economically damaging pests in organic strawberry production, the lygus bug (Lygus spp.). Semiochemicals are organic compounds that send signals to insects that alter their behavior, used either to attract them or repel them and can act as an alternative to insecticidal sprays.  In this study, the researchers simultaneously used a female sex pheromone in combination with phenylacetaldehyde to attract the lygus bugs away from the strawberry crops, and another semiochemical, hexyl butyrate that repels the lygus bug away from strawberry crops. They measured the abundance of lygus and the amount of lygus damage in treated and untreated strawberry field under either organic or conventional management. While the semiochemicals were effective under both management regimes, they were especially helpful in the organic strawberry fields. Organic strawberry fields treated with the semiochemicals had 80% fewer lygus bugs and a 50% reduction of lygus damage. These results suggest that semiochemicals used in combination as repellents and attraction agents to draw lygus away from crops can be an effective measure of pest control without the use of insecticides. 



Banner Photo Credit: Yulia Khlebnikova;