Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hanging Baskets of Sex and Death Help Fruit Growers


A hanging basket style device is at the heart of a plan by researchers at the University of Warwick to harness the sex drive of a major pest of fruit orchards as a weapon to spread a virus to kill that very same pest. The device allows growers to selectively target the pest with a virus that kills its larvae without killing other beneficial insects.

The researchers at Warwick HRI, the horticultural research arm of the University of Warwick, have devised a hanging basket style dispenser full of a virus known to kill the larvae of codling moth. The dispenser is designed to protect the virus from the elements and also includes a strong source of codling moth pheromone. The pheromone draws in the moth hoping for a sexual encounter and the insect leaves frustrated but covered in the virus which it then passes on to other moths when it does manage to have an actual encounter with another real moth. This results in direct contamination of eggs laid by the pest or contamination of the site where the moth lays its eggs. The larvae are killed after eating the virus on the egg or plant surface. This brings two key benefits to fruit growers:

An end to spraying - Normally Growers wishing to use this form of virus warfare have to spray almost every element of an orchard to ensure the moths come into contact with virus. This is wasteful both of time and resources. By this method the moth themselves spread the virus in a very targeted way to other moths and prevents loss of populations of other beneficial insects such as the red spider mite which would occur if growers used pesticides.

Extended virus life - The virus does not fare well in direct sunlight. Growers who currently spray the virus find it quickly becomes ineffective and it has to re-sprayed several times in order to control the pests. By placing the virus in dispensers with a cover that shields the virus supply from direct sunlight one application of virus could serve for an extended period and remove the need for constant reapplication

In this Defra funded project the researchers have already tested the effect of a single dispenser which alone infected 5% of all the moths found over a 1 hectare site. That early test helped them maximize the best virus formulation, and the most efficient dispenser design that maximised access for the moths while protecting the virus from sunlight and other elements, and the best form of pheromone lure. That test also helped them choose between a liquid and powder based mix for the virus - the liquid was found to be best. The University of Warwick researchers are now working with colleagues from East Malling Research on a larger scale 12 hectare trial of the dispenser in a large commercial apple orchard in Worcestershire. An array of 25 dispensers per hectare have been erected over 3 separated orchard plots of one hectare within an even larger orchard. The codling moth control within these three 1 hectare plots will be compared to similar sized orchard plots with dispensers without virus, or no treatment or sprayed with a commercial virus spray at the same virus dose.

Peter Dunn | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Earlier flowering of modern winter wheat cultivars
20.03.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Algorithm could streamline harvesting of hand-picked crops
13.03.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>