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Use of insect pheromones in vegetable pest management: Successes and struggles

Insect pheromones can be used to monitor, mass-trap, and/or disrupt the mating process of insect pests. Sex pheromones of major lepidopteran pests such as tomato fruit worm (Helicoverpa armigera) and common armyworm (Spodoptera litura) are widely used as monitoring lures in tropical vegetable production systems. The use of sex pheromone traps as a mass-trapping tool against polyphagous insects is limited. However, such traps are highly effective in reducing the damage and yield losses caused by monophagous insects such as eggplant fruit and shoot borer (Leucinodes orbonalis), as demonstrated in the Indo-Gangetic Plains of South Asia by AVRDC- The World Vegetable Center. By definition, pheromones are species-specific, yet “cross-talks” were observed when we attempted to refine sex pheromones for monitoring and mass-trapping legume pod borer (Maruca vitrata) and cucumber moth (Diaphania indica). In addition to sex pheromones, the possible use of aggregation pheromone as a pest management tool has been attempted in striped flea beetle (Phyllotreta striolata) on vegetable brassicas. Recent research indicated that pheromones act synergistically when combined with host plant volatiles, a process validated against P. striolata at AVRDC.


Srinivasan R, Lin M-Y, Su F-C, Yule S, Khumsuwan C, Thanh Hien, Vu Manh Hai, Le Duc Khanh, Bhanu KRM. 2015. Use of Insect Pheromones in Vegetable Pest Management: Successes and Struggles. New Horizons in Insect Science: Towards Sustainable Pest Management. pp. 231-237