July 6, 2014


Pest Control Method Using Sex Pheromone Developed to Keep Sugarcane from White Grubs

Keywords: Chemicals Environmental Technology University / Research institute 

Photo: Sex pheromone trap
Copyright National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences All Rights Reserved.

The Japanese National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS), the Okinawa Prefectural Agricultural Research Center, and Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., a Japanese manufacturer of plastic, silicon, and semiconductors, announced on February 20, 2014, that the new method they developed for sugarcane pest control showed successful results. The method uses a sex pheromone to disrupt the mating of pests and prevent them from breeding.

Sugarcane is Okinawa's primary crop, with sugarcane fields occupying 47 percent of all farmland there. However, in Miyako-jima, a group of islands in southern Okinawa Prefecture, sugarcane farmers often suffer complete decimation of their harvests just before harvesting time. The damage is caused by scarabaeidae larvae, or grubs, eating the underground stem root system; the main culprit is the white grub beetle Dasylepida ishigakiensis.

The research team found that the sex pheromone D. ishigakiensis females produce to attract males is 2-butanol. The team synthetically produced the sex pheromone and enclosed it in a polyethylene tube, and conducted a demonstration experiment by laying the tube on the ground throughout the sugarcane field.

The results of the experiment shows that only one percent of females succeeded in mating in the experimental field, compared to the control field, where almost all females mated. The number of larvae found in the experimental field the following year was less than one twentieth that found in the field with no tubes. In the control field, feeding damage occurred and yield was ruined, while crops grew to good health in the experimental field. The results confirmed the effectiveness of the new pest-control method. The team expects their new method will make a significant contribution to pest-control technology against white grubs.