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Managing the vine mealybug, Planococcus ficus, through pheromone-mediated mating disruption

Lucchi, Andrea, Suma, Pompeo, Ladurner, Edith, Iodice, Andrea, Savino, Francesco, Ricciardi, Renato, Cosci, Francesca, Marchesini, Enrico, Conte, Giuseppe, Benelli, Giovanni
Environmental science and pollution research international 2019 v.26 no.11 pp. 10708-10718
Planococcus ficus, dispensers, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, insect pests, insecticides, mating disruption, monitoring, sex pheromones, table grapes, vineyards, wine grapes, Italy, Sicily
The vine mealybug (VMB), Planococcus ficus (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), is a key insect pest of vineyards. While pheromone-based mating disruption (MD) has been successfully tested against a wide range of insect pests, knowledge about its efficacy against key mealybug species, such as P. ficus, is scarce. In this study, a novel MD product, Isonet® PF, was evaluated by testing 300, 400, and 500 dispensers/ha at four study sites located in Northern (Veneto) and Southern (Sicily) Italy. Experiments were carried out over 2 years by monitoring the mealybug populations in wine grape and table grape vineyards managed with and without the application of MD. Pheromone dispensers were periodically collected during the grapevine-growing season, extracted, and analyzed by GC-MS, to determine their pheromone content and the release in mg/ha/day. The results showed that use of the MD dispenser Isonet® PF reduced the percentage of VMB-infested bunches and the number of VMB specimens per bunch compared with the untreated controls. This was recorded over 2 years at all experimental sites. Differences in the incidence of infested bunches among the three tested rates of Isonet® PF were not detected. Overall, the results presented here contribute to optimizing the sex pheromone dosage used in MD control programs against VMB allowing a reduction of broad-spectrum insecticides currently employed to manage this important pest.