Pheromones give nematodes a boost in controlling pests

phys.org | 2/21/2019 | Staff
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Beneficial nematodes are used as biological control agents to fight a variety of insect pests that severely damage crops. However, in many cases the nematodes don't measure up to other control methods such as certain chemical pesticides.

A recent Agricultural Research Service (ARS) study, published in The Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, shows that beneficial nematodes (also called entomopathogenic nematodes) treated with pheromone extracts are more effective at killing an economically important insect—the pecan weevil—as well as the black soldier fly.

Weevil - Pest - Southeast - Texas - Oklahoma

The pecan weevil is a major pecan pest in the Southeast as well as in Texas and Oklahoma, said David Shapiro-Ilan, an entomologist at the ARS Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, Georgia. If left uncontrolled, it can reduce crop production up to 70 percent.

An advantage of using beneficial nematodes is that they are safe for humans and the environment and target only specific insects, Shapiro-Ilan said.

Research - Shapiro-Ilan - Colleagues - Pheromones - Nematodes

In earlier research, Shapiro-Ilan and his colleagues discovered that pheromones produced by beneficial nematodes direct their behavior—telling them to disperse or infect insects. With that in mind, they sought ways to use pheromones to enhance nematodes' behavior to kill more insect pests.

Since then, ARS has established a cooperative research agreement with Pheronym, an...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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