Special Issue "From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice"

A special issue of Insects (ISSN 2075-4450).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Andrea Lucchi
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, via del Borghetto 80, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Interests: harmfulness and biological control of grapevine pests; pheromone mating disruption; implementation of "Area Wide Pest Management" strategies; Insect vibrational communication with particular reference to grapevine leafhoppers and planthoppers; morphology of insect pheromone glands and antennae
Dr. Giovanni Benelli
grade E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, via del Borghetto 80, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Interests: biological control; biopesticides; ecotoxicology; green insecticides; insect behavior; insect vectors; mating disruption; mosquitoes; parasitoids; pheromones; repellents; ticks
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The study of insect chemical ecology with special reference to their pheromones is a fascinating field of research. Pheromone-mediated mating disruption (MD) represents an effective and eco-friendly biocontrol technique to manage insect pests of agricultural importance. Worldwide, agricultural pests on more than 800,000 hectares are estimated to be managed with MD. This technique relies on the release of synthetic sex pheromones from dispensers in crops, interfering with mate finding and reproduction of the pest through both competitive and non-competitive mechanisms. Unfortunately, the use of MD is still restricted to a rather limited number of crop pests, with special efforts being directed toward moths. However, the MD potential is huge and urgently needs to be explored further.

In this framework, the present Special Issue welcomes theoretical, laboratory, and field studies on insect pheromones, as well as on MD efficacy against insect species of economic importance, with special reference to the development of novel MD tools and approaches, their mechanisms of action, optimization of release geometries, cost-effectiveness, and possible non-target effects. Both original research and reviews will be considered for publication.

Best regards,

Prof. Dr. Giovanni Benelli
Prof. Andrea Lucchi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Insects is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice
Insects 2021, 12(8), 698; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12080698 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 452
Abstract
Insects perceive and integrate a hierarchy of visual, chemical and tactile cues for feeding and reproductive purposes, as well as for predator and parasitoid avoidance [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice)

Research

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Article
Development of Monitoring and Mating Disruption against the Chilean Leafroller Proeulia auraria (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) in Orchards
Insects 2021, 12(7), 625; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12070625 - 09 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 561
Abstract
The leafroller Proeulia auraria (Clarke) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) is a native, polyphagous, and growing pest of several fruit crops in Chile; it also has quarantine importance to several markets, thus tools for management are needed. Using synthetic pheromone compounds, we conducted field trials to [...] Read more.
The leafroller Proeulia auraria (Clarke) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) is a native, polyphagous, and growing pest of several fruit crops in Chile; it also has quarantine importance to several markets, thus tools for management are needed. Using synthetic pheromone compounds, we conducted field trials to optimize the blend for monitoring, and to determine the activity period of rubber septa aged under field conditions. We concluded that septa loaded with 200 μg of E11-14:OAc + 60 μg E11-14:OH allowed for efficient trap captures for up to 10 weeks. Using this blend, we studied the phenology of adult males in vineyards, apple, and blueberry orchards, identifying two long flight cycles per season, lasting from September to May and suggesting 2–3 generations during the season. No or low adult activity was observed during January and between late May and late August. Furthermore, mating disruption (MD) field trials showed that application of 250 pheromone point sources using the dispenser wax matrix SPLAT (Specialized Pheromone and Lure Application Technology, 10.5% pheromone) with a total of 78 g/ha of the blend described above resulted in trap shutdown immediately after application, and mating disruption >99% in all orchards for at least 5 months. We concluded that MD is feasible for P. auraria, needing now the development of a commercial product and the strategy (and protocols) necessary to control this pest in conventional and organic orchards in Chile. As far as we know, this is the first report on MD development against a South American tortricid pest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice)
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Article
Mating Disruption for Managing the Honeydew Moth, Cryptoblabes gnidiella (Millière), in Mediterranean Vineyards
Insects 2021, 12(5), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050390 - 28 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 713
Abstract
The demand for a reduced use of pesticides in agriculture requires the development of specific strategies for managing arthropod pests. Among eco-friendly pest control tools, pheromone-based mating disruption (MD) is promising for controlling several key insect pests of economic importance, including many lepidopteran [...] Read more.
The demand for a reduced use of pesticides in agriculture requires the development of specific strategies for managing arthropod pests. Among eco-friendly pest control tools, pheromone-based mating disruption (MD) is promising for controlling several key insect pests of economic importance, including many lepidopteran species. In our study, we evaluated an MD approach for managing the honeydew moth (HM), Cryptoblabes gnidiella, an emerging threat for the grapevine in the Mediterranean basin. The trials were carried out in two study sites, located in Tuscany (central Italy, years 2017–2019) and Apulia (southern Italy, years 2016 and 2018–2019), and by applying MD dispensers only in April, in April and July, and only in July. To evaluate the effects of MD, infested bunches (%), damaged area (%) per bunch, and number of living larvae per bunch were compared among plots covered with MD dispensers, insecticide-treated plots (Apulia only), and untreated control plots. Male flights were monitored using pheromone-baited sticky traps. Except for the sampling carried out in Tuscany in 2018, where HM infestation level was very low, a significant difference was recorded between MD and control plots, both in terms of HM damage caused to ripening grapes and/or number of living larvae per bunch. Overall, our study highlighted that MD, irrespective of the application timing, significantly reduced HM damage; the levels of control achieved here were similar to those obtained with the application of insecticides (no MD). However, MD used as stand-alone strategy was not able to provide complete pest control, which may instead be pursued by growers with an IPM approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice)
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Article
Mating Disruption of Pseudococcus calceolariae (Maskell) (Hemiptera, Pseudococcidae) in Fruit Crops
Insects 2021, 12(4), 343; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040343 - 13 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 790
Abstract
Pseudococcus calceolariae, the citrophilous mealybug, is a species of economic importance. Mating disruption (MD) is a potential control tool. During 2017–2020, trials were conducted to evaluate the potential of P. calceolariae MD in an apple and a tangerine orchard. Two pheromone doses, [...] Read more.
Pseudococcus calceolariae, the citrophilous mealybug, is a species of economic importance. Mating disruption (MD) is a potential control tool. During 2017–2020, trials were conducted to evaluate the potential of P. calceolariae MD in an apple and a tangerine orchard. Two pheromone doses, 6.32 g/ha (2017–2018) and 9.45 g/ha (2019–2020), were tested. The intermediate season (2018–2019) was evaluated without pheromone renewal to study the persistence of the pheromone effect. Male captures in pheromone traps, mealybug population/plant, percentage of infested fruit at harvest and mating disruption index (MDI) were recorded regularly. In both orchards, in the first season, male captures were significantly lower in MD plots compared to control plots, with an MDI > 94% in the first month after pheromone deployment. During the second season, significantly lower male captures in MD plots were still observed, with an average MDI of 80%. At the third season, male captures were again significant lower in MD than control plots shortly after pheromone applications. In both orchards, population by visual inspection and infested fruits were very low, without differences between MD and control plots. These results show the potential use of mating disruption for the control of P. calceolariae. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice)
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Article
Individual and Additive Effects of Insecticide and Mating Disruption in Integrated Management of Navel Orangeworm in Almonds
Insects 2021, 12(2), 188; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020188 - 22 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 758
Abstract
Damage from Amyelois transitella, a key pest of almonds in California, is managed by destruction of overwintering hosts, timely harvest, and insecticides. Mating disruption has been an increasingly frequent addition to these management tools. Efficacy of mating disruption for control of navel [...] Read more.
Damage from Amyelois transitella, a key pest of almonds in California, is managed by destruction of overwintering hosts, timely harvest, and insecticides. Mating disruption has been an increasingly frequent addition to these management tools. Efficacy of mating disruption for control of navel orangeworm damage has been demonstrated in experiments that included control plots not treated with either mating disruption or insecticide. However, the navel orangeworm flies much farther than many orchard pests, so large plots of an expensive crop are required for such research. A large almond orchard was subdivided into replicate blocks of 96 to 224 ha and used to compare harvest damage from navel orangeworm in almonds treated with both mating disruption and insecticide, or with either alone. Regression of navel orangeworm damage in researcher-collected harvest samples from the interior and center of management blocks on damage in huller samples found good correlation for both and supported previous assumptions that huller samples underreport navel orangeworm damage. Blocks treated with both mating disruption and insecticide had lower damage than those treated with either alone in 9 of the 10 years examined. Use of insecticide had a stronger impact than doubling the dispenser rate from 2.5 to 5 per ha, and long-term comparisons of relative navel orangeworm damage to earlier- and later-harvested varieties revealed greater variation than previously demonstrated. These findings are an economically important confirmation of trade-offs in economic management of this critical pest. Additional monitoring tools and research tactics will be necessary to fulfill the potential of mating disruption to reduce insecticide use for navel orangeworm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice)
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Article
Influence of Age and Mating Status on Pheromone Production in a Powderpost Beetle Lyctus africanus (Coleoptera: Lyctinae)
Insects 2021, 12(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12010008 - 25 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 681
Abstract
Powderpost beetles such as Lyctus africanus are a common pest group for dried cured wood, causing significant harm to wood and wood products. We examined the life span and effects of aging and mating status on pheromone production in the powderpost beetle L. [...] Read more.
Powderpost beetles such as Lyctus africanus are a common pest group for dried cured wood, causing significant harm to wood and wood products. We examined the life span and effects of aging and mating status on pheromone production in the powderpost beetle L. africanus (Coleoptera: Lyctinae). Experiments compared starved and unstarved male groups, and chemical analysis was used to determine factors affecting pheromone production. Regarding lifespan, male beetles provided food survived up to 14 weeks, while starved beetles died before the fifth week. Thus, an adult L. africanus male may require food throughout its lifespan, and food availability may affect pheromone production. There was no significant difference in the quantity of two major pheromone compounds, compound 2 (3-pentyl dodecanoate) and 3 (3-pentyl tetradecanoate) between mated and un-mated males. On the other hand, a minor compound, compound 1 (2-propyl dodecanoate) showed increased quantity after mating. The two major compounds were produced in low amounts by young L. africanus beetles, increasing until the fifth week, and beginning to decrease at the ninth week. The minor compound was produced steadily without significant change up to 9 weeks. Our results represent a step forward in the knowledge of the chemical communication of this important pest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice)
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Article
Can Mating Disruption Be a Possible Route to Control Plum Fruit Moth in Mediterranean Environments?
Insects 2020, 11(9), 589; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11090589 - 01 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 750
Abstract
Control of the plum fruit moth, Grapholita funebrana Treitschke (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae), has been mainly based on the use of chemical insecticides, which can cause undesirable side effects, leading to a growing interest towards alternative sustainable strategies. The aim of this study was to [...] Read more.
Control of the plum fruit moth, Grapholita funebrana Treitschke (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae), has been mainly based on the use of chemical insecticides, which can cause undesirable side effects, leading to a growing interest towards alternative sustainable strategies. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of the mating disruption technique on G. funebrana infestation in plum orchards, by comparing the number of male captures in pheromone-baited traps, and evaluating the damage to fruits in plots treated with the pheromone dispersers and in control plots. The study was carried out in 2012 and 2014 in three organic plum orchards, on the cultivars Angeleno, Friar, President and Stanley. To evaluate the pheromone emission curve of the dispensers from the openings to the end of the trials, a chemical analysis was carried out by solid phase micro-extraction followed by gas chromatography, followed by mass spectrometry. In all years and orchards the mean number of males caught in traps placed in the treatment plots was always significantly lower than untreated plots. Pheromone emission from the dispensers was highest at the opening, and was still considerable at 54 days of field exposure, while it significantly decreased after 72 days of field exposure. Cultivar was confirmed to be an essential factor in determining the fruit infestation level. Pheromone treatment significantly reduced fruit infestation, but not economic damage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice)
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Article
Mating Disruption of Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) on Processing Tomato: First Applications in Northern Italy
Insects 2020, 11(4), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11040206 - 26 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 977
Abstract
Helicoverpa armigera is a polyphagous and globally distributed pest. In Italy, this species causes severe damage on processing tomato. We compared the efficacy of mating disruption with a standard integrated pest management strategy (IPM) in a two-year experiment carried out in Northern Italy. [...] Read more.
Helicoverpa armigera is a polyphagous and globally distributed pest. In Italy, this species causes severe damage on processing tomato. We compared the efficacy of mating disruption with a standard integrated pest management strategy (IPM) in a two-year experiment carried out in Northern Italy. Mating disruption registered a very high suppression of male captures (>95%) in both growing seasons. Geostatistical analysis of trap catches was shown to be a useful tool to estimate the efficacy of the technique through representation of the spatial pattern of captures. Lower fruit damage was recorded in mating disruption than in the untreated control plots, with a variable efficacy depending on season and sampling date. Mating disruption showed a higher efficacy than standard IPM in controlling H. armigera infestation in the second season experiment. Mating disruption showed the potential to optimize the H. armigera control. Geostatistical maps were suitable to draw the pheromone drift out of the pheromone-treated area in order to evaluate the efficacy of the technique and to detect the weak points in a pheromone treated field. Mating disruption and standard IPM against H. armigera were demonstrated to be only partially effective in comparison with the untreated plots because both strategies were not able to fully avoid fruit damage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice)
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Article
Multiple Mating in the Citrophilous Mealybug Pseudococcus calceolariae: Implications for Mating Disruption
Insects 2019, 10(9), 285; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10090285 - 05 Sep 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1076
Abstract
The citrophilous mealybug Pseudococcus calceolariae (Maskell) (Hemiptera, Pseudococcidae) is a primary pest of various crops, including grapevines. The use of insecticides against this species is difficult in most cases because its life cycle includes an extended duration of eggs, juveniles, and adults under [...] Read more.
The citrophilous mealybug Pseudococcus calceolariae (Maskell) (Hemiptera, Pseudococcidae) is a primary pest of various crops, including grapevines. The use of insecticides against this species is difficult in most cases because its life cycle includes an extended duration of eggs, juveniles, and adults under the bark and on the roots. Pheromone-based control strategies can present new eco-friendly opportunities to manage this species, as in the case of Planococcus ficus (Signoret) and Planococcus citri (Risso). With this aim it is critical to understand behavioral aspects that may influence pheromone-based control strategies. Herein, the capability of males to fertilize multiple females was investigated, trying to understand whether this behavior could negatively impact the efficacy of mass trapping, mating disruption, or the lure and kill technique. Results showed that a P. calceolariae male can successfully mate and fertilize up to 13 females. The copulation time in subsequent mating events and the time between copulations did not change over time but the number of matings per day significantly decreased. In a further experiment, we investigated the mate location strategy of P. calceolariae males, testing the attractiveness of different loadings of sex pheromone on males in a flight tunnel. Males constantly exposed to 16 rubber septa loaded with the sex pheromone showed a significant decrease in female detection at 1 and 30 μg loadings (0.18 and 0.74 visits per female for each visit per septum, respectively), whereas in the control about 9.2-fold more of the released males successfully detected the female in the center of the array of 16 septa without pheromone. Male location of females in the control (45%) was significantly higher than in the arrays with surrounding pheromone (5% and 20% at 1 and 30 μg loadings, respectively). Mating only occurred in the control arrays (45%). This study represents a useful first step to developing pheromone-based strategies for the control of citrophilous mealybugs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice)
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Review

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Review
Latest Developments in Insect Sex Pheromone Research and Its Application in Agricultural Pest Management
Insects 2021, 12(6), 484; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12060484 - 23 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 973
Abstract
Since the first identification of the silkworm moth sex pheromone in 1959, significant research has been reported on identifying and unravelling the sex pheromone mechanisms of hundreds of insect species. In the past two decades, the number of research studies on new insect [...] Read more.
Since the first identification of the silkworm moth sex pheromone in 1959, significant research has been reported on identifying and unravelling the sex pheromone mechanisms of hundreds of insect species. In the past two decades, the number of research studies on new insect pheromones, pheromone biosynthesis, mode of action, peripheral olfactory and neural mechanisms, and their practical applications in Integrated Pest Management has increased dramatically. An interdisciplinary approach that uses the advances and new techniques in analytical chemistry, chemical ecology, neurophysiology, genetics, and evolutionary and molecular biology has helped us to better understand the pheromone perception mechanisms and its practical application in agricultural pest management. In this review, we present the most recent developments in pheromone research and its application in the past two decades. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice)
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Review
Tephritid Fruit Fly Semiochemicals: Current Knowledge and Future Perspectives
Insects 2021, 12(5), 408; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050408 - 30 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1221
Abstract
The Dipteran family Tephritidae (true fruit flies) comprises more than 5000 species classified in 500 genera distributed worldwide. Tephritidae include devastating agricultural pests and highly invasive species whose spread is currently facilitated by globalization, international trade and human mobility. The ability to identify [...] Read more.
The Dipteran family Tephritidae (true fruit flies) comprises more than 5000 species classified in 500 genera distributed worldwide. Tephritidae include devastating agricultural pests and highly invasive species whose spread is currently facilitated by globalization, international trade and human mobility. The ability to identify and exploit a wide range of host plants for oviposition, as well as effective and diversified reproductive strategies, are among the key features supporting tephritid biological success. Intraspecific communication involves the exchange of a complex set of sensory cues that are species- and sex-specific. Chemical signals, which are standing out in tephritid communication, comprise long-distance pheromones emitted by one or both sexes, cuticular hydrocarbons with limited volatility deposited on the surrounding substrate or on the insect body regulating medium- to short-distance communication, and host-marking compounds deposited on the fruit after oviposition. In this review, the current knowledge on tephritid chemical communication was analysed with a special emphasis on fruit fly pest species belonging to the Anastrepha, Bactrocera, Ceratitis, Rhagoletis and Zeugodacus genera. The multidisciplinary approaches adopted for characterising tephritid semiochemicals, and the real-world applications and challenges for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and biological control strategies are critically discussed. Future perspectives for targeted research on fruit fly chemical communication are highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From Insect Pheromones to Mating Disruption: Theory and Practice)
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