One of the country’s leading insect pheromone experts is advocating more widespread use of monitoring and control strategies that use pheromones to help tackle the pest responsible for significant damage to apple, pear and walnut crops.
In his first webinar on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, International Pheromone Systems (IPS) Technical Director Dr Sam Jones discussed the Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella) which is a serious economic pests of apples globally. He explained how monitoring and mating disruption – both of which are more environmentally beneficial than pesticide use – are being used successfully by some growers.
“The caterpillars of this clever moth burrow into the middle of the apple where it is protected from pesticides and most predators. Often the best solution for orchards of over 7.5 acres is to disrupt mating through the use of pheromone dispensers. This technique is being used successfully in Italy and New Zealand where 70 percent of orchard owners are benefitting from it. The use of Delta traps and pheromone lures can also help orchard managers monitor for the presence of the moth providing them with critical information so they can then decide when to use any pesticides. Pesticide application needs careful timing as it will only be effective before the insect enters the fruits or nuts,” he said.
Creating a diversity of habitats is most easy to achieve in gardens, explained Dr Jones. So, for gardens wood piles, long grass, leaflitter, flower beds and ponds can all increase the diversity of natural predators.
In horticulture, one strategy that can be adopted is to provide wildflower margins which provide a nectar food source for many predators (e.g. parasitic wasps and hoverflies) and can attract them to the crop location. The larvae of some of these predators such as the Marmalade Hoverfly, Episyrphus balteatus, are voracious eaters of harmful plant pests. IPS is currently researching semiochemicals that could be used to attract natural predators.
Pheromone traps and lures are also useful in the battle against the Box Tree Moth (Cydalima perspectalis) which is a widespread problem for gardeners. This is now IPS’s biggest selling lure which is used to alert gardeners to the presence of the pest and take remedial action when necessary.
The overall message however from Dr Jones is that pesticides should only be used when absolutely necessary and as part of an integrated pest management programme.
He stresses: “Pest monitoring is an essential part of any integrated pest management plan. The use of pheromones allows us to monitor and decide whether a pest is present and, if it is, we can often estimate the size of the population. From this we can identify whether a control strategy might be required and, if it is, monitoring can also provide feedback on the success of the control procedure. Efficient traps and lures must be used otherwise you can end up attracting the pests, but they won’t enter the trap. The traps often have to be specific colours to visually attract pests or in some cases deter attraction of beneficial insects such as pollinators.”
The late eminent entomologist and fellow of the Royal Society, Sir Richard Southwood stated, very succinctly, that “Monitoring is the cornerstone of integrated pest management”.
Dr Jones is an entomologist with a keen interest in insect taxonomy, chemical ecology and behaviour. His academic achievements include a PhD in Chemical Ecology from the University of Sussex, a Masters in Entomology from Imperial College and Undergraduate degrees in Zoology and Chemistry from the Universities of Leeds and Leicester, respectively.
His role at International Pheromone Systems enables him to use his knowledge of chemistry and insect behaviour to develop new and improved products for the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) market. Much of his work involves collaboration with commercial partners and Research Institutes to develop novel solutions for the IPM market and resolve emerging pest issues.
Passionate about wildlife and its conservation; in his spare time Dr Jones works within a team surveying insect diversity at protected sites and reserves and is currently adapting his large garden to maximize the variety of plant and animal species that inhabit the space.