First of all, remember that pheromone traps are NOT the only method you should use to monitor for any pest. They are a useful tool but they are not a stand-alone method. |
Targeting pests at the right time with the right product can save you money, make your pest control program more effective, and help preserve the beneficial organisms on your farm. There are many ways to monitor for insect pests in your orchards and vineyards and one popular method is pheromone traps.
Relying solely on pheromone traps for your monitoring information is hazardous to your crop! Having said that, pheromone traps are a useful tool but need to be used correctly.
Pheromones are chemicals produced by some species of insects (probably in way more species than we now know) to communicate with members of the same species. Frequently, these are 'sex pheromones' which a female produces to attract a mate. Pheromones are most well known for Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) and these chemical messengers can be commercially produced by synthesizing and blending the appropriate chemicals For pheromone trap use, the pheromone chemicals are commonly forced into a rubber 'septa' (a small rubber cap), which can be placed in a sticky trap to attract male moths. Storage and handling
Pheromone 'caps' (lures) should be left in their sealed packages until a day before use in the field. Pheromone blends are species-specific and insects are sensitive to minute quantities of pheromones. When handling pheromone lures (or any other pheromone product), wear disposable gloves to avoid cross-contamination with other products. Even if you are handling only one kind of lure, use disposable gloves or disposable forceps or you will contaminate the lure and it will be less effective than it should be. Pheromone lures should be stored in their sealed packages in a fridge until use unless directed otherwise by the manufacturer. Placement in the field
Sticky traps should be hung before the lures are placed in them. Put the traps at least 40m apart and if you are trapping for more than one kind of insect, use separate traps for each kind of lure and keep them at least 40m from any traps set up for monitoring other species.
It's preferable if you can figure out a reliable way to suspend the lure in the trap without it touching the sticky surface. However, this practice can be both time consuming and frustrating. Replacement
If traps get full of dirt, other insects or leaf bits, or if they sag from being wet for too long, they should be changed.
Transfer the pheromone lure to the new trap. Lures last for different lengths of time; if a replacement time is not printed on the package, assume that they last about 6 weeks. Pheromone lures definitely do not last all season! Try to replace the lures between generations of the monitored pest. It's best to take the lures out of their package for a day or two before putting them in the traps because lures tend to give off a large 'flush' of pheromones when packages are first opened. This can result in abnormally high numbers of moths being caught making interpretation of data difficult. Monitoring the traps
Traps should be checked twice a week on the same days each time. Once a week is not often enough because you will not get a good approximation of peak flights. Scrape out moths and other insects with a small spatula or scraper. Make sure you know what insect you are looking for and record the numbers you find every time. Do not rely on your memory! Interpreting the numbers
The numbers you record from pheromone trap catches tell you a couple of things about the pest but don't expect them to give you the whole picture. They do tell you when a particular pest is present in the adult form in your area. That's important for some pests as is 'biofix' or sustained first flight for other pests. By graphing the total numbers caught in your traps on each monitoring day, you can also see whether the numbers of adults is rising or falling. This can help you determine the best timing for control measures. The numbers caught in your traps do not always tell you enough information about the overall pest pressure to be used as thresholds for action. Timing of sprays is most accurate when information is gathered from a number of sites - regional monitoring programs are extremely useful in this regard.
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