1. What are pheromones?
Pheromones are semiochemicals that induce a behavioral or physiological response in members of the same species (Borden 1982). Pheromones that are synthesized in the lab come in a range of formats, including rubber septa, plastic capsules, flexlures, plugs, vials, rubber or polymer membranes, and any number of other specialized dispensers. Regardless of the container, pheromone lures all contain non-toxic chemical compounds designed to attract a specific insect species. Pheromone lures are generally packed individually (or in bulk) in hermetically sealed foil or plastic pouches. Sex pheromones tend to be the most commonly known, as they have been studied extensively. However, insects also emit other non-sex pheromones that play an important role in their various behaviors. These include alarm pheromones, trail pheromones, egg-laying pheromones, aggregation pheromones, and pheromones that dictate social behaviors, e.g., royal pheromone in bees, and orientation or Nasonov pheromone.
Kairomones are a type of semiochemical released by a plant or insect that benefit the recipient, while harming the producer, of the chemical compound. Kairomones generally indicate to the recipient a food source or the presence of a predator.
Kairomones differ from pheromones in that they are interspecific messengers (between groups) as opposed to pheromones, which are intraspecific messengers (within a same group).
2. How long do pheromone lures last?
When kept in the freezer in their original packaging, pheromones can maintain their effectiveness for anywhere from three to five years. Check manufacturer indications for the exact shelf life of each pheromone. Once the pheromone lure is removed from its original packaging and placed in a trap, it will remain effective for 2 to 5 weeks. Again, check manufacturer indications for the field life of individual pheromones. We are happy to assist you if you have any questions about how to store and use pheromone lures, so feel free to ask!
3. How should pheromones be handled?
To maximize the efficacy of pheromones, handle them as little as possible. In some cases, the pouch containing the pheromone can be used to drop the lure into the trap without touching it. Otherwise, it is recommended you wear rubber gloves or use tweezers to handle lures. If you are monitoring for several different insects, avoid touching lures of one species then immediately touching a different pheromone as this can cause cross-contamination. Never leave pheromone lures in your vehicle on a warm day. When transporting pheromone lures to the field in hot weather, consider carrying them in a lunchbox (used for this purpose only) with an icepack in it.
4. How do pheromones work?
A tiny amount of synthesized chemical compound is released gradually from the pheromone dispenser, attracting males of that specific species. The chemical formula mimics the odor the female insects secrete to attract males.
5. How do I install the pheromone lures?
The dispenser containing the pheromone can be placed directly on a sticky surface. Depending on the crop and type of trap, some users hang the lures using a paper clip or binder clip while others prefer to pin them directly to the trap lid. All of these methods are acceptable, however we recommend you always use the same method so that the data you collect is based on the same parameters. This will ensure your trap catch numbers are as precise as possible.
6. How should I store the pheromones?
As mentioned above, pheromones are best stored in the freezer if you don’t intend to use them right away. In addition, avoid exposing the lures to warm temperatures when carrying them to the monitoring site. You may wish to use an ice-pack to keep them cool during transportation.
7. What are insect traps?
An insect trap is a medium for catching and retaining insects. When used in conjunction with a pheromone, it is an indispensable tool to help you determine the presence of a particular insect species. Traps not only help you detect the presence of insects, they can also reveal the scope of an infestation and insect hotspots. Traps are also a highly effective follow-up tool to check the efficacy of control treatments.
8. Which trap should I choose?
Choosing the right trap for a particular purpose depends on a number of factors: existing scientific data, available efficacy tests, preferred monitoring protocols, the need to comply with monitoring standards to enable data comparison, and various other factors. Trap color, shape, size, and light conditions have also been shown to have an incidence on trap attractiveness to certain insects. Refer to the chart in the Insects tab of each section on the website for recommended traps for specific insects. Or feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to help you select the appropriate trap for your needs. Other factors to consider when drawing up a monitoring plan include price, practical considerations (for example, the Diamond trap is much quicker to assemble than the Wing trap), and the ability to calculate trap catch quickly and efficiently (for example, since the Delta trap is used with a removable sticky liner, it is very easy to count the number of trapped insects). The effective life of the trap is another factor to consider. Reusable traps can be advantageous, but only if you are able to store them properly during the off-season, away from possible contaminants. Also, reusable traps should be used to monitor one specific insect species only, as the pheromone will impregnate the trap permanently.
9. What is meant by insect monitoring?