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Perfume component helps lure male moth pests


by Mick Kulikowski, North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University researchers have shown that adding a small amount of a chemical used in perfumes—nonanal—to a two-chemical combination of other sex pheromones helped increase the cocktail's effectiveness in mimicking female fall armyworm "come hither" calls to males.

The findings could eventually help farmers better detect, monitor and control fall armyworm populations, which negatively affect some 350 plant species—including crops like corn and cotton as well as turfgrass and other cultivated grasses.

"Nonanal is emitted by people, birds and even apples," said Coby Schal, Blanton J. Whitmire Distinguished Professor of Entomology and co-corresponding author of a paper describing the research. "It is a universal attractant that, by itself, doesn't have much of an effect. But when a certain percentage of nonanal is added to the multi-chemical attractant mixture discovered nearly 40 years ago, it has a highly stimulatory effect—in this case attracting male fall armyworm moths in the lab and then attracting male moths to traps in field experiments."


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