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UC researchers demonstrate potential use of pheromones in management of mealybugs
Female long-tailed mealybug on the ornamental plant Ruscus (magnification 64x). Photo © Rebeccah Waterworth.
the long-tailed mealybug Pseudococcus longispinus.
Overall, each species has distinct biological characteristics that result in differences in geographic/climatic ranges, host preferences, economic injury, and approaches to management. Until recently, vineyard managers had no simple and effective methods for monitoring these mealybug species.
It had been known for some time that sessile mature female mealybugs of all four species produced sex pheromones to attract tiny, winged males for mating. In 2001, University of California researchers Jocelyn Millar, Kent Daane, and Walt Bentley began a project to identify these pheromones so that they could be developed for use as trap lures, in the same way that many lepidopteran pests are now monitored with pheromone traps.
The team first identified a pheromone for vine mealybug (in 2002), and it was immediately adopted for use in detecting new infestations as vine mealybug continued to spread into new areas of California. Since then, the team has identified the pheromones of the other three species.
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Jocelyn Millar, Dept. of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA,
Rebeccah Waterworth,
Dept. of Entomology, University of
California, Riverside, CA,
Walt Bentley, Kearney Agriculture
Center, Parlier, CA,
Kent Daane, Dept. of Environmental
Science, Policy, & Management,
University of California, Berkeley, CA,
Vaughn Walton, Dept. of Horticulture,
Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR,
Monica Cooper, University of California
Cooperative Extension, Napa, CA
ver the past decade, economic losses from mealybug infestations in California vineyards have increased dramatically. In addition to damage caused by the buildup of sooty mold on mealybug-excreted honeydew and insect detritus in bunches, mealybugs are also responsible for vectoring grapevine leafroll viruses that decrease yield and reduce winegrape quality.
The four most important mealybug species are the recently introduced and highly invasive vine mealybug Planococcus ficus, the grape mealybug Pseudococcus maritimus, the obscure mealybug Pseudococcus viburni, and
Suterra “Checkmate” pheromone dispenser for VMB mating disruption. Photo by Don Neel.