Pheromone products deliver value on top of existing farming practices by balancing productivity with sustainability
By preventing insects from reproducing, pheromone products add an extra layer to insect control, helping growers manage pests and resistance in a more ecologically friendly way. FMC is developing a portfolio of pheromone products that will provide growers with targeted control of a wide range of insect pests in crops, localities, and climatic conditions across the world.
All insects use pheromones to communicate – to alarm, trail, disperse, aggregate, or attract a mating partner. A female insect will secrete sex pheromones, creating an inviting plume for the male to follow to her location. After mating, the female lays her eggs, which hatch into larvae – a new generation of pests is born.
Growers can prevent new generations of targeted pests from emerging by applying sex pheromones in a field. With pheromones everywhere, the male insects are confused, struggling to detect the pheromone plume of an actual female. Unable to locate each other, the insects' mating is disrupted.
Part of the attractiveness of mating disruption lies in its targeted mode of action. As every insect species uses a specific pheromone blend to attract a mating partner, mating disruption is species-specific. Bees and other beneficial insects are left to thrive. Effective in small concentrations – similar to those already being emitted by insects in nature – there is minimal risk of exposure for animals and humans.
Mating disruption is a tool best applied together with other control tactics as part of an integrated pest management (IPM) system. IPM uses a range of practices to monitor, prevent, and control pests with biological, physical, and chemical methods. Precision agriculture can help growers monitor pest presence and target hotspots in a field, while mating disruption can be applied preventatively to break the cycle of pest reproduction, supported by insecticides to control outbreaks.
Growers will find that pheromone solutions can help them manage insecticide resistance. Offering a different mode of action than conventional products, mating disruption applied as part of integrated pest management can curb development of resistance to insecticides and transgenic insecticidal crops. Mating disruption will remain effective against pests that have developed resistance to insecticides, as insects use sex pheromones to find a mate and, thus, secure the survival of their species.
FMC is one of the first companies to offer mating disruption products to growers of row crops. We can do this because we produce pheromones at an industrial scale using a biological yeast fermentation platform rather than conventional chemical synthesis. The lower cost expands pheromones' application across high-value, small-acreage specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables to also include the large row crop market. Pheromone products in development target pests of major food and feed crops.
Pheromones are not available for sale or use in all areas. No offer for sale or use of these products are permitted prior to issuance of registration by the relevant local government regulatory agency.