Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 8, pp 1494–1504 | Cite as

Can Ménage-À-Trois be Used for Controlling Insects?

  • D. M. SucklingEmail author
  • E. B. Jang
  • L. A. Carvalho
  • J. T. Nagata
  • E. L. Schneider
  • A. M. El-Sayed


We propose a new cross-species disruption approach that might be capable of interrupting mating of one species that uses another insect species as the mercenary agent. We argue that insects treated with a sufficiently powerful attractant for a second species might interfere with mating of one or both species, for example, by leading males astray in pursuit of the false trails created by suitably dosing individuals of the first species. Our reciprocal test systems used (1) methyl eugenol, an attractant for male oriental fruit flies (Bactrocera dorsalis), applied to melon flies (B. cucurbitae) and (2) cuelure, a lure for male melon flies, applied to B. dorsalis. There was no mortality 1 week after either attractant was applied to individual flies at doses up to 100 ng, which was effective in attracting insects in a field cage and in the field. In wind tunnel choice tests, 100 ng of either lure topically applied to tethered flies attracted fruit fly males of the second species, which exhibited prolonged bouts of physically disruptive behaviors including chasing and bumping. In small cages, treatment of males did not reduce mating of either species, with one group of three (ménage) per cage. However, in large field cages with multiple pairs of both species present, there was a significant reduction in the mating of melon flies resulting from methyl eugenol applied to males compared to untreated controls. The treatment of oriental fruit flies with cuelure also reduced their mating to a lesser extent. These results do not yet provide the practical proof of this new concept for pest management, but other model systems may be more appropriate. This work is novel in presenting attractants on a moving target, in this case, another insect species.


Mating disruption Attractants Methyl eugenol Cuelure Fruit flies 



D. M. Suckling undertook this project with a Fellowship under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Cooperative Research Programme: Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems. Other support was provided by the US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, HortResearch, and the New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology (CO6X0301). Don McInnis provided invaluable insights into mating assessment in fruit flies and comments on the manuscript. Kellie Nagai helped with preparation of material for experiments.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. M. Suckling
    • 1
    Email author
  • E. B. Jang
    • 2
  • L. A. Carvalho
    • 2
  • J. T. Nagata
    • 2
  • E. L. Schneider
    • 2
  • A. M. El-Sayed
    • 1
  1. 1.The Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Ltd.LincolnNew Zealand
  2. 2.USDA-ARS US Pacific Basin Agricultural Research CenterHiloUSA

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