The Two Themes
The ability to detect insect pests is a fundamental element of pest management programs, whether related to forestry and agriculture, or to human health and the environment. Having the capacity to detect and estimate the level of insect pests enables crop managers, farmers and forest managers (urban and rural) to make decisions regarding the application of control methods. In many cases, basic visual monitoring is applied but it will only provide estimates of pest levels in a given year, often when it is too late and after damage levels are beyond acceptable ‘thresholds for control’.
By using tools such as pheromone traps (which attract insects with semiochemical-releasing lures), pest populations can be tracked annually so that major increases leading to outbreak conditions can be forecasted early. In many cases the adults are trapped, but the larvae, which hatch later, are the damaging stage. Therefore proper controls can be delivered in a timelier manner. This is the basis for an early intervention strategy. For many crops, this can eliminate unnecessary, environmentally hazardous and expensive insecticide applications when pest populations are well below acceptable levels. Furthermore, such traps can be used as sentinels to detect the presence/absence/spread of invasive insect species.
Our first 2 forestry products, the detection lures for Brown Spruce Longhorn Beetle (BSLB) and for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) have been launched and are available for purchase through Sylvar Technologies Inc. Newly available for sale in 2014 also from Sylvar technologies Inc. is our first agricultural lure for Blueberry Spanworm .
Detection technologies are crucial to the maintenance and efficient operation of pest management practices, but provide minimal direct control of insect pests. Population management techniques such as mating disruption technology can provide comparable control to conventional insecticide treatments, with considerable benefits versus these more traditional methods.
The principal of mating disruption is straightforward – the air is permeated with insect specific pheromone or other semiochemicals, so that adult insects are ‘confused’ and unable to locate mates. This technology is not insecticidal (i.e. it does not contain toxic compounds designed to kill insects) but simply relies on significantly reducing mating to such a degree that populations are depleted.
Successful mating disruption also requires the development of application and formulation technology that can be used to apply product to extensive areas at affordable costs. This includes liquid or encapsulated sprayable formulations which can be applied using standard spray equipment and systems that are found on agricultural tractors or conventional spray aircraft.
PHOTO CREDIT: CHRIS RILEY
During their development these mating disruption products undergo rigorous efficacy and safety testing in accordance with the regulatory requirements of the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) Product registration is mandatory before they become available for use.