Why use pheromone traps?

Why use pheromone traps?

Understanding the pests present within an area, and the risk they pose to a crop, are key to optimal pest management strategies. Insect pheromone traps are key decision supporting tools to be used in any agricultural or horticultural growing system.

The number of insecticides available to farmers are decreasing. Those which remain often have tightening restrictions on the number of times they can be applied. Newer products are often more specific either in the insect pests they control or the insect life-stage they can be used against. These newer synthetic chemicals are also often more expensive. Use of biological control products or biopesticides often work better against lower pest pressures or against certain life-stages and monitoring traps help identify when these conditions are met. The use of insect monitoring traps with action thresholds assists growers decide if, when and what action is required within their crop.  

  • Pest specific decision supporting tool
  • More efficient use of Plant Protection Products (PPP)
  • Support correct application of biocontrol products
  • Environmental benefits from correctly identifying when a pesticide is needed


What are insect pheromone traps?

Insects communicate by producing chemical signals, one group of which are pheromones. Most commonly produced by females, pheromones are sex signals for communication between female and males of the same species. Pheromones are specific to a certain species to ensure only a suitable mate is attracted.   

Insect pheromone traps use synthetic analogues (artificially manufactured but structurally identical) of the molecules naturally produced by the specific insect pest. The pheromone is loaded into a dispensing unit (e.g. rubber septa) from where it gradually evaporates over the lifetime of the lure. The target pest detects the pheromone released from the dispenser and is attracted to it where it becomes trapped.


How to use insect pheromone traps in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program?

Use of the trap (positioning and timing) can vary between product, see individual product for specific information here. The monitoring trap should be placed in the crop before the pest is expected to be present. Typically traps should be placed within the crop area at crop height. The red colour used in most Andermatt Delta traps makes them easier to located within a field. Traps should be checked regularly (at least weekly) and the number of caught insects recorded. After counting the contents of the trap, dispose of caught insects to make the next count easier. If using Delta traps with sticky bases, replace base when glue loses its tackiness or at least when replacing lure. If using Funnel traps add a little water and washing detergent to the base to prevent attracted insects escaping.

Best practice for using insect monitoring traps:

  • Store pheromone lures in a cool location until use.
  • Use fresh pheromone lures. Do not open the foil sachet before the lure is required.
  • Place pheromone lure in high risk area of crop, not simply in the area easiest to access.
  • Write the target pest being caught on the trap.
  • Regularly check and record the number of insects caught in the trap. Dispose of trapped insects after counting.
  • Replace lure according to product recommendations (typically every 6 weeks).
  • If a trap is to be used over multiple seasons, it should only be used for the same pest species.


Different types of insect traps.

There are various different types of insect traps which can be used with pheromone lures from basic red, green or white delta traps to coloured funnel traps, Castellation traps or McPhail traps. For monitoring lepidoptera pest species, Delta traps are most often used. For larger sized species or where larger populations are expected funnel traps can have a basket built into their roof to hold a pheromone dispenser.

Andermatt UK also supply a number of pest insect traps which do not use pheromones, such as for the garden chafer beetle (Phyllopertha horticola) which uses a food source scent which attracts both male and female beetles. For more information on this product click here.

Some traps use visual cues, such as a very specific shade of orange in the Rebell Carrot fly sticky traps with an understanding of the pest behaviour to carefully position the traps where the adult flies are known to move around a crop. For more information on this product click here.

Alternatively, some traps combine both scent of the pheromone with visual attractants such as bold patterns on the sticky surface of the trap.


Benefits to the environment.

Understanding which pest is present is key to planning an ecologically sound integrated pest management strategy. Identifying adult pest activity and planning future action is better both the environment and the farmer rather than reactive action when the more destructive stages of the life cycle are present.

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