Development of a Farm-Wide System for Control of Many of the Principal Lepidopterous Pests of Grapes and Tree Fruits Based on Disruption of Premating Pheromone Communication Between Male and Female Moths

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1995: $120,770.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1998
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $238,260.00
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Harry H. Shorey
University of California

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: grapes, general tree fruits
  • Nuts: almonds


  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Pest Management: mating disruption
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems


    A novel device for dispensing pheromones into the air of agricultural fields, for the purpose of communication disruption and elimination of mating of pest moth species, is the puffer. These machines release repeated puffs of pheromone from pressurized aerosol cans, with individual puffs often containing pheromone equivalent to millions of female moths. They have a number of advantages, in comparison to traditional hand-applied pheromone-release devices. Because the pheromone is protected from light and oxygen until the moment of release, chemical breakdown is minimized. Two or more pheromones can be mixed and emitted together, giving the opportunity to obtain simultaneous control of more than one species. The amount of pheromone is the same for last puff as it is for the first puff released from the can, giving a predictable amount of pheromone delivered per unit of time. Labor costs for installing puffers are apt to be considerably lower than they are for hand-applied devices. Nine large-acreage, season-long trials were conducted during 1996, 1997 and 1998 to evaluate the puffer technique for management of lepidopterous pests on peaches and table grapes. Four trials on peaches were directed at simultaneous mating disruption and control of the oriental fruitmoth, omnivouous leafroller and the peach twigborer. Five trials on table grapes were directed at mating disruption of the omnivouous leafroller and raisin moth. In these trials, puffers showed high potential for controlling multiple pest species on a wide area, farm-wide basis.

    Project objectives:

    1. Establish laboratory colonies for each Lepidoptera species to be tested.

    2. Determine for each species the critical concentration of pheromone components needed to effectively disrupt premating communication of the following major lepidopterous pests of California stone fruit and grapes: Oriental fruitmoth (OFM), peach twigborer (PTB), omnivouous leafroller (OLR), raisin moth (RM), oblique-banded leafroller (OBLR) and orange tortrix (OT).

    3. Perform quantitative analysis of various pheromone components, both alone and in mixtures to determine chemical stabilities in the absence of air, and volatility’s when exposed to air.

    4. Determine for each species the degree to which their specific pheromone components, presented separately or in mixtures, either enhance or interfere with the efficacy of communication disruption of other species when they are simultaneously exposed to marginally disruptive levels of their own pheromone components.

    5. Demonstrate that appropriate combinations of the pheromone components representing each of the lepidopterous pests present in specified 160-acre blocks of grapes or stone fruit can be released together into the air from widely separated mechanical dispensers spaced on ¼-mile grids, providing effective communication disruption of each of the species.

    6. Determine and demonstrate the efficacy of this ranch-wide communication disruption system, when it is maintained in 160-acre blocks through the entire effective pest season, by comparing reductions in larval infestations attacking the crop foliage, fruit and stems with reductions that are caused in comparison blocks by presently available commercial pheromone-disruption systems of by presently recommended pesticidal control methods.

    7. Measure the edge effect of larval infestation of the respective pests that is caused by female moths that mate in nearby untreated areas and then fly into and lay eggs in the pheromone-protected area.

    8. Arrange field days at the 160-acre treated ranches and publish results in newsletters and appropriate agricultural publications to inform interested growers, farm advisors, PCA’s, and regulatory personnel at both state and federal levels with regard to the new technology.

    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.