For male Indianmeal moths (IMM), the scent of a female is the ultimate aphrodisiac. To get male IMM in the mood, females need only to release sex pheromones. Males follow the chemical secretions and mate, creating the next generation of stored product pests.
But the process can be stopped. Thanks to mating disruption technology, pest management professionals (PMPs) can use these pheromones to their advantage, thwarting reproduction with the very thing IMM rely on to reproduce.
Pheromone dispensers disperse plumes of artificial pheromones into the air. Male moths sense these artificial pheromones, but can’t distinguish them from those naturally produced by female moths. Confused males follow the wrong pheromones and might become so overwhelmed by the amount of attractant in the air, they don’t search for a female at all, preventing them from mating.
This process significantly inhibits population growth. Fewer adult moths mate; fewer eggs are laid; and fewer larvae mature into adults, which makes mating distribution technology a long-term solution to moth infestation. Mating disruption offers various benefits. It:
- reduces the need for frequent space treatments;
- lowers clean-up and shutdown costs associated with traditional treatments;
- provides a continuous control strategy; and
- contains a low mammalian toxicity, making it ideal for sensitive accounts.
As with other types of pest control, mating disruption benefits from integrated pest management (IPM), which includes an emphasis on sanitation, exclusion, inspection and, if needed, conventional pesticide applications such as a space treatment or fumigation.
For measurement purposes, it’s also important to use IMM pheromone traps. Though unlikely to attract many moths, it will indicate the effectiveness of mating disruption or signal other control tactics might be needed. For example, if the monitoring trap count increases, a new introduction of moths might have occurred, requiring additional investigation.