Managing the vine mealybug, Planococcus ficus, through pheromone-mediated mating disruption
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The vine mealybug (VMB), Planococcus ficus (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), is a key insect pest of vineyards. While pheromone-based mating disruption (MD) has been successfully tested against a wide range of insect pests, knowledge about its efficacy against key mealybug species, such as P. ficus, is scarce. In this study, a novel MD product, Isonet® PF, was evaluated by testing 300, 400, and 500 dispensers/ha at four study sites located in Northern (Veneto) and Southern (Sicily) Italy. Experiments were carried out over 2 years by monitoring the mealybug populations in wine grape and table grape vineyards managed with and without the application of MD. Pheromone dispensers were periodically collected during the grapevine-growing season, extracted, and analyzed by GC-MS, to determine their pheromone content and the release in mg/ha/day. The results showed that use of the MD dispenser Isonet® PF reduced the percentage of VMB-infested bunches and the number of VMB specimens per bunch compared with the untreated controls. This was recorded over 2 years at all experimental sites. Differences in the incidence of infested bunches among the three tested rates of Isonet® PF were not detected. Overall, the results presented here contribute to optimizing the sex pheromone dosage used in MD control programs against VMB allowing a reduction of broad-spectrum insecticides currently employed to manage this important pest.
KeywordsBiological control Chemical ecology Integrated pest management Sustainable pest control Sex pheromones
Three anonymous reviewers kindly improved an earlier version of our manuscript. The authors are grateful to Shin-Etsu for kindly providing the tested dispensers. We would like to thank Dr. Mauro Varner, Cantine Mezzacorona (Villa Albius), and Dr. Sergio Rizzo, Cantine Fichera & Torrisi (Chiaramonte Gulfi), for the technical assistance, and Dr. Roma L. Gwynn (Duns, Scotland, UK) for proofreading the manuscript.
This research was partially funded by the University of Catania, Research Project 2016-18 “Emergent Pests and Pathogens and Relative Sustainable Strategies” - 5A722192113.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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