Forestry and agriculture represent fundamental, primary industries in Canada and many other countries around the world. GIMIK - Green Insect Management Innovation & Knowledge is a 5 year multi-partner, pan-Atlantic ACOA-AIF project joining together regional leaders (academic and commercial) from the forestry and agricultural sector.
This innovative, novel project is developing and commercializing effective and environmentally-responsible pheromone-based and semiochemical (natural chemical compounds) detection and disruption products as alternatives to toxic insecticides and pesticides.
During the last few years heightened public awareness and government regulations of environmental issues is demanding a change in how we address these problems. Our integrated research approach together with our developed products (which pose significantly less risk to human health and the environment) is and will complement current pest management strategies by providing real alternatives for controlling insect pests in agriculture and forestry within Atlantic Canada, Canada and beyond.
The communication amongst insects, their choice of a mate, selection of host plant and site for laying their eggs all depends on the insect’s olfactory system (i.e. what the insect smells) and they rely on a vast range of semichemicals for this behaviour. A semiochemical (semeon means a signal in Greek) is a generic term used for a chemical substance or mixture that carries a message. When the interaction happens between 2 members of the same species a semiochemical substance known as a pheromone is released. A pheromone is (from Greek phero "to bear" and hormone, from Greek "impetus") a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. In our project we identify the sex pheromones of specific insect species to help regulate the behavior which encourages the male and the female to come together and mate.
The 2 key elements of this exciting AIF initiative are:
1. Detection and Monitoring Technology:
Developing, testing, manufacturing and launching a range of new or improved low-risk products for native and invasive insect pests for agriculture and forestry.
For the Forest industry, target species include: Brown Spruce Longhorn Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, Balsam Fir Sawfly, Pine False Webworm, Elm Spanworm and Beech Leaf Mining Weevil.
For the Agricultural industry, target species presently include: Blueberry Spanworm, Blueberry Leaf Tier, Blueberry Maggot, Blueberry Flea Beetle, Cranberry Fruitworm, European Apple Sawfly, European Corn Borer, Spotted Wing Drosophila, Corn Earworm, Wireworm complex, Codling moth, Delia maggots, Imported Cabbageworm and Diamondback Moth.
2. Mating Disruption Technology:
Further developing, testing, manufacturing semiochemicals first identified from the Detection Theme to compatible formats for mating disruption applications. This will include creating microencapsulated formulations which maintain the longevity of the product and permit application with standard spray technology that is used in agriculture and forestry. It enables direct control of insect target pests by confusing mate-seeking insects and disrupting mating (thereby inhibiting the production of damaging progeny). This technology will maximize the efficiency and practicality of these semiochemical products, allowing for their use in a variety of industries and circumstances.