The Big Shutdown

Many moths find mates through the use of pheromones. The female releases a pheromone into the air in a behavior known as calling. Male moths are well endowed with arrays of olfactory receptors fine tuned to detect the slightest traces of pheromone in the air. Male moths are able to sense the direction of the wind and will fly upwind to the pheromone source.

Male Gypsy Moth

Male Gypsy Moth

Since the 1970s, it has been possible to control the populations of some pest species of moth using pheromone. The pheromone is released into the air from many tiny dispensers and the male moths will find the dispensers instead of the females. How can we tell if a pheromone is working or not? We use a trap baited with the amount of pheromone a single female would release. In an untreated field, the male moths will find their way into the trap. If the field is treated with pheromone dispensers, the moths will find the pheromone dispensers but not the trap. As long as the pheromone traps are empty, trap catch is said to be “Shutdown” and the pheromone is working. Once the pheromone dispensers have released all their pheromone, the traps will once again catch moths and it is time to re-apply pheromone dispensers.

When the traps are shutdown, life and mating for moths is disrupted, just as when Government is shutdown the life of many people is disrupted.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, Biomaterials, by jjneal, News, Pest Management, Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

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