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Mating Disruption: How does it work?


Love is in the air – and still no female to be found. The search for a partner in the world of insects is based on communication by pheromones, which are scents secreted by females ready to mate that show male beetles the quickest way to their destination. Mating disruption effectively disables this biological navigation system. The method is based on an active substance copied from nature that imitates the pheromone specific to the target species. If the active substance is applied to the affected crop, the scent of females ready to mate is suddenly in the air everywhere. The maize field now appears to be covered with a very high number of “points of interest” for conspecifics looking for a mate, none of which lead to the desired destination. The result of the confusion caused is that the number of matings is massively reduced, and the pest population is reduced accordingly.

The confusion method is already being used successfully in orchards and vineyards. However, manually deployed dispensers are used for this purpose, which would not be economically viable in arable farming. The lithos micro dispenser® technology now also enables its use for crops on large-scale farms, opening up new perspectives for the future of sustainable agriculture.

The advantages of mating disruption

  • Highly effective & species-specific: Crop protection products that cause mating disruption are proving to be as effective or even more effective than conventional insecticides. They are species-specific and target only the insect that is doing damage. Other creatures and beneficial insects such as bees remain unaffected, so biodiversity is conserved.
  • Completely non-toxic for humans, animals and the environment: Natural pheromones are used to cause mating disruption. These are non-toxic and therefore safe for humans, animals and the environment.
  • No resistance formation: Insects do not build up a resistance to pheromones used for mating disruption. For farmers, this means that pheromone solutions are available for effective and safe control over the long term.

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Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Innovation Council. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.



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