The Smells and Sounds of a Subterranean Sessid: Mating disruption and acoustic detection of grape root borer

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2009: $9,434.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Oscar Liburd
University of Florida

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: grapes


  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Pest Management: cultural control, integrated pest management, mating disruption
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures


    The smells and sounds of subterranean sessid: mating disruption and acoustic detection of grape root borer

    The grape root borer, Vitacea polistiformis (Harris), is the key pest of grapes in Florida. A study was initiated to evaluate the potential to use acoustic devices for detecting V. polistiformis in the root of vines. The project goal is to provide additional monitoring tools for detecting V. polistiformis in the root system of grape vines and potentially reduce the cost of mounding since growers will be able to distinguish infested from un-infested roots. Experimenters and computer software were used to assess the likelihood of V. polistiformis infestations at various sites. Vine root systems were then excavated to determine infestation levels. The results indicate that acoustic methods could be developed and used as tools for detecting V. polistiformis, which will facilitate the use of mounding as a cost effective strategy. In a separate study the potential for mating disruption using V. polistiformis and Zeuzera pyrina pheromone blends was investigated as an alternative to chemical pesticides. Initial studies were initiated to determine the lowest density of pheromone dispensers that can be deployed to achieve effective mating disruption. Additional studies examined the release rates of a paraffin wax dispenser SPLAT (Specialized Pheromone & Lure Application Technology). The results indicated that one dispenser per plant will be sufficient to achieve 95% disruption. The wax dispenser (SPLAT) was an effective device that can be used to dispense pheromone at a release rate of 77.4 µg of pheromone per g of SPLAT per day. Both V. polistiformis and Zeuzera pyrina pheromone blends resulted in effective mating disruption of V. polistiformis males. Until more research is done, the Z. pyrina pheromone is recommended because it is cheaper and commercially available.


    The smells and sounds of subterranean sessid: mating disruption and acoustic detection of grape root borer

    Grape root borer, Vitacea polistiformis Harris has become a widespread pest of grapes in the Eastern United States. It is one of the most destructive pests of grapes in North and South Carolina, Georgia and in Florida. Our goal was to develop an integrated management program for grape root borer in south eastern US.

    Project objectives:

    Objective 1: To evaluate the potential of acoustic detection of grape root borer larvae in the root system of grape plants in a field setting

    Acoustic records were collected from 28 root systems of muscadine vines. Two accelerometer amplifiers and a recorder were placed on the storage bed of an electric cart and transported throughout vineyard rows to sites with vines exhibiting symptoms of infestation: wilting, yellowed or dead leaves, and reduced leaf area as compared with neighboring plants of the same variety.

    Objective 2a: To evaluate the potential of mating disruption

    This experiment was established to measure the effect of dispenser density per area of crop on disruption of male V. polistiformis orientation.

    Objective 2b:To determine which pheromone blend is more effective.

    This experiment was established to compare disruption of V. polistiformis catch in monitoring traps using the ‘natural’ V. polistiformis pheromone [99% (E,Z)-2,13-ODDA: 1% (ZZ)-3-13-ODDA] versus the much less expensive and more readily available Zeuzera pyrina L. pheromone [95% (E,Z)-2,13-ODDA: 5% (E,Z)-3,13-ODDA). Both pheromone blends contain (E,Z)-2,13-octadecadien-1-ol as the main component.

    Objective 2c: Determine release rate of new paraffin wax dispenser technology

    The objective of this experiment was to quantify the release rate of pheromone from SPLAT dispensers used in mating disruption and trapping studies.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.