Pheromones are a class of semiochemicals that Pests and other animals release to communicate with other individuals of the same species. The key to all of these behavioural chemicals is that they leave the body of the first organism, pass through the air (or water) and reach the second organism, where they are detected by the receiver.
Pheromones are nothing new to pest control—pest control professionals frequently use pheromones traps as a means to monitor pest populations—adding them to Pesticides is a new concept.
The pest control industry is only beginning to understand the opportunities to improve our business with mobile and social technology—but the possibilities are endless. In Pests, these pheromones are detected by the antennae on the head. The signals can be effective in attracting faraway mates, and in some cases, can be very persistent, remaining in place and active for days. Long-lasting pheromones allow marking of territorial boundaries or food sources. Other signals are very short-lived and are intended to provide an immediate message, such as a short-term warning of danger or a brief period of reproductive readiness.
Pheromones can be of many different chemical types, to serve different functions. As such, pheromones can range from small hydrophobic molecules to water-soluble peptides.
Pheromones used in PEST MANAGEMENT
There are three main uses of pheromones in the integrated pest management of Pests.
The most important application is in monitoring a population of Pests to determine if they are present or absent in an area or to determine if enough Pests are present to warrant a costly treatment.
This monitoring function is the keystone of integrated pest management. Monitoring is used extensively in urban pest control of cockroaches, in the management of stored grain pests in warehouses or distribution centres, and to track the nationwide spread of certain major pests such as the gipsy moth, Medfly, and the Japanese beetle.
A second major use of pheromones is to mass trap Pests to remove large numbers of Pests from the breeding and feeding population.
Massive reductions in the population density of pest Pests ultimately help to protect resources such as food or fibre for human use. Mass trapping has been explored with pine bark beetles and has resulted in millions of Pests attracted specifically into traps and away from trees.
A third major application of pheromones is in the disruption of mating in populations of Pests. This has been most effectively used with urban pests. In this scenario, a synthetic pheromone is dispersed in the premises and the false odour attracts males away from females that are waiting to mate. This causes a reduction of mating, and thus reduces the population density of the pests. In some cases, the effect has been so great that the pests have been locally eradicated.
Pheromones are species-specific chemicals that affect Pest behaviour but are not toxic to Pests. They are active (e.g. attractive) in extremely low doses (one-millionth of an ounce) and are used to bait traps or confuse a mating population of Pests.
Researchers at the University of California have developed what they call a “pheromone- an assisted technique,” which maximizes the effectiveness of Pesticides. Pesticide by itself does not actually lure Pests. Instead, if the Pest happens to cross a treatment zone, it will pick up the Pesticide and eventually die. But when combined with a pheromone, the Pest can actually be lured away from its trails and nests to the Pesticide. The ultimate goal of pheromone-enhanced products will be to not only control pests, such as this invasive ant species but also decrease the impact on the environment, on non-target creatures and human health. For instance, some pheromones like those used by Indian meal moths can be deployed in food processing facilities or warehouses to prevent male moths from finding females. This “mating disruption” technique is one more new tool that could lead to an increased reliance on bio-rational products.