Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 42, Issue 7, pp 590–605 | Cite as

Mating Disruption as a Suppression Tactic in Programs Targeting Regulated Lepidopteran Pests in US

  • David R. LanceEmail author
  • Donna S. Leonard
  • Victor C. Mastro
  • Michelle L. Walters


Mating disruption, the broadcast application of sex-attractant pheromone to reduce the ability of insects to locate mates, has proven to be an effective method for suppressing populations of numerous moth pests. Since the conception of mating disruption, the species-specificity and low toxicity of pheromone applications has led to their consideration for use in area-wide programs to manage invasive moths. Case histories are presented for four such programs where the tactic was used in the United States: Pectinophora gossypiella (pink bollworm), Lymantria dispar (gypsy moth), Epiphyas postvittana (light brown apple moth), and Lobesia botrana (European grapevine moth). Use of mating disruption against P. gossypiella and L. botrana was restricted primarily to agricultural areas and relied in part (P. gossypiella) or wholly (L. botrana) on hand-applied dispensers. In those programs, mating disruption was integrated with other suppression tactics and considered an important component of overall efforts that are leading toward eradication of the invasive pests from North America. By contrast, L. dispar and E. postvittana are polyphagous pests, where pheromone formulations have been applied aerially as stand-alone treatments across broad areas, including residential neighborhoods. For L. dispar, mating disruption has been a key component in the program to slow the spread of the infestation of this pest, and the applications generally have been well tolerated by the public. For E. postvittana, public outcry halted the use of aerially applied mating disruption after an initial series of treatments, effectively thwarting an attempt to eradicate this pest from California. Reasons for the discrepancies between these two programs are not entirely clear.


Eradication Containment Gypsy moth Pink bollworm Light brown apple moth European grapevine moth Aerial application Disparlure Slow the spread Invasive pests 



We thank Roxanne (“Rocky”) Broadway and Andy Roberts for the graphics used in the maps. P. Berger, R. Bulluck, R. Johnson, G. Simmons, and B. Stone-Smith provided useful comments on earlier drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Lance
    • 1
    Email author
  • Donna S. Leonard
    • 2
  • Victor C. Mastro
    • 1
  • Michelle L. Walters
    • 3
  1. 1.USDA APHIS PPQ, CPHST Otis LaboratoryBuzzards BayUSA
  2. 2.USDA Forest Service, Southern Region, Forest Health ProtectionAshevilleUSA
  3. 3.USDA APHIS PPQ, CPHST Phoenix LaboratoryPhoenixUSA

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