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Learning the Chemistry of Phermones and Pesticides

Sep 6, 2008
The exquisite specificity of insects chemical language is not surprising, considering that it is often the only means insects have for finding each other. Researchers have now broken the code for the pheromone communication of more than 1,600 insects. In so doing they have found that pheromones serve many more purposes than simply attracting mates.

As already discussed, Pheromones are powerful sex attractants. Till now hundreds of pheromones are known with which one sex (usually the female) of an insect species attracts its mates. Many of these sex attractants (Pheromones) - or their close chemical relatives - are available commercially and these are proved very effective as Pesticides against many pests in two ways:

1) Male Confusion

Distributing a pheromone throughout an area masks the insect's own sex attractant and thus may prevent the sexes getting together. The male cannot find the respective female for more than hundred days and hence the offspring rate reduces extensively. This "communication disruption" has been used successfully against a wide variety of important pests. For example, the sex attractant of the cotton boll weevil has reduced the need for conventional chemical insecticides by more than half in some cotton-growing areas.

2)Insect Monitoring

Insect Pheromones are also valuable in monitoring pest populations. By baiting traps with the appropriate pheromone, a build-up of the pest population can be spotted early. Even if a conventional insecticide is the weapon chosen, its early use reduces

- the amount needed
- damage to the crop
- cost to the grower
- possible damage to the environment.

Early detection of pest build-up is a key ingredient in the system known as integrated pest management (IPM). The feathery antennae of a male gypsy moth, will detect the pheromones released by the females (who do not fly). It is not necessary that pheromones should be present in very high concentration.

Pheromones can be highly effective at low doses and great distances. In some insects, a single molecule of pheromone is enough to elicit a response. Detection of just 30 pheromone molecules can prompt a response in cockroaches. In less than five days a single caged female pine sawfly attracted more than 11,000 males from the field.

From a pest management standpoint, pheromones are a critical key to manipulating insect behaviors. Usage of pheromones as pest control was under practice since a long time. But a scientific approach towards it has now proven effective since it is more eco-friendly, cost effective, less expensive, user friendly and also does not harm the pest. It just will make them stay away from each other so they do not mate and hence they do not reproduce and spoil the crops and there by prevent the commercial loss.

Though there are many pheromones available for controlling pests, still it has not reached the farmers. The farmers have to be well educated about the uses of theses pheromones and their cost effectiveness and thus spread the "scent of Eros" everywhere for its maximum benefits.
About the Author
Phermones Guide Blog is a one stop resource for everything about pheromones. Please visit the site at http://phermonesguide.blogspot.com
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