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Female grape berry moths are the biggest insect threat to wine grapes in the eastern U.S. The moths lay their eggs on grapes and, once hatched, the larvae penetrate the skin, then eat and damage the fruit. But no one is quite sure how the moths home in on berries from the wider landscape.
A new study, published Nov. 21 in the Journal of Chemical Ecology, investigates how these pests find their target amid a sea of other plants in the landscape.
Researchers - Grapes - Profile - Compounds - Moths
The researchers originally hypothesized that grapes might have a unique profile of volatile compounds that the moths recognize, and perhaps other neighboring plants have volatile organic compound profiles that deter moths.
They created a study design that gauged the attraction of female grape berry moths to volatile organic compounds emitted from grape vines, the moths' natural host plant, as well as to nearby gray dogwood and apple trees.
Chemical - Cues - Signals - Insects - Resources
"Chemical cues, signals, are used by almost all insects to locate resources in their habitat, such as mates or host plants," said Charles Linn, a senior research associate at Cornell, now retired, and the senior author on the paper.
"Grape plants produce maybe hundreds of compounds, but the insects are really only detecting a subset with their antennae," said Greg Loeb, professor of entomology at Cornell AgriTech and a co-author of the paper.
Michael - Wolfin - PhD - '17 - Researcher
Michael Wolfin, Ph.D. '17, a postdoctoral researcher at Penn State, is the paper's first author.
The researchers ran gas chromatography, electro-antennal detection and mass spectrometry analyses coupled with...
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