The Science

What are pheromones

Pheromones are natural compounds produced by insects that act as messengers affecting the behavior of other individual insects. Usually, wind-borne, they serve many roles, helping insects find a mate and food, but also escaping predators. Pheromones involved in finding a mate are called sex pheromones. They are usually released by female insects to attract a male. These powerful attractants can be synthesized artificially and be used in various ways for insect population control. One use is by confusing the male insects, so they cannot find a female. When the males do not find a female, the mating process is disrupted. As a result, reproduction is prevented, and less offspring will be produced in the next generation. This way of controlling the insect population and decreasing the size of future generations is the concept behind mating disruption.

What is Mating Disruption

Unlike traditional insecticides, which aim to eliminate insect larvae already present in the field, mating disruption does not kill insects. It is instead a species-specific, preventative method that hinders the next generation of worms and reduces the insect population over each season of use. Here is how it works: When a female insect releases a pheromone, it is said to be” calling” the male. Male insects can, in some cases, detect a single female from over a mile away. Detection of sexual pheromones from their own species prompts the male insects to fly upwind crisscrossing the pheromone trail left by the females until he finds his mate. Imagine trying to find your friend in a dark room, and the only signal is a whisper. Now imagine the same situation but add loud music to the room. Much like your friend’s sound would be drowned out by the music, mating disruption works by drowning out the pheromone “call” of an insect. The principle behind mating disruption is saturating the environment with pheromones similar to those released by female insects. The male insects are unable to find the females, even if females are in the field. Her weaker pheromone signal cannot be detected in the pervasive cloud generated by the mating disruption pheromone.

How are Provivi's pheromones different?

Provivi uses proprietary (bio)catalysts and low-cost raw materials to reduce the steps needed to synthesize pheromones and increase yields. This enables Provivi to produce pheromones at large- scale and reduced costs. The traditionally high cost of synthesizing insect sex pheromones has been a barrier to the adoption of this technology in low-cost, large hectarage row crops. Provivi’s affordable pheromone products enable the adoption of this technology in those crops. For instance, in corn, following extensive testing on several continents, Provivi’s pheromone-based mating disruption concept is highly effective as the foundation for controlling the population of the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda). Provivi has also developed a mating disruption product against the yellow and striped stem borer in rice (Scirpophaga incertulas & Chilo suppressalis). By demonstrating strong performance in extensive trials in China and Indonesia, Provivi’s product has shown a reduction in plant damage, decreased need for insecticide applications, and protection of the rice crop yield.

Benefits of Mating Disruption

Integrated Pest Management (IPM).  Preventative measures to avoid crop damage from insect attacks are the foundation of IPM, and as such, mating disruption is a key component of IPM programs. Mating disruption pheromones, being natural and species-specific compounds, are generally safe to beneficial predators, parasitoids, and other non-target organisms. Those undisturbed beneficial organisms can, in turn, further reduce the pest population. Resistance management. Repeated use of insecticides from one chemical family may favor the growth of insect populations that are resistant to those insecticides. Thus, with time, the insecticides become less effective. Mating disruption will help reduce the proliferation of resistant pest individuals, and thereby the transfer of resistance to the next generation. Long term control. Pheromones used for mating disruption often provide population control for extended periods in a season. By using mating disruption over several seasons, the reduced or delayed mating may reduce the general population of that species in the local area.

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The big picture
Provivi’s groundbreaking research is transforming innovations in biotechnology and chemistry into effective, affordable solutions to key significant insect problems. The adaptation of Provivi’s Pherogen™ pheromones as the foundation for pest control is empowering farmers to strive towards increased sustainability for their benefit as well as for the benefit of the environment and consumers. Let us hear our experts put the global challenges of food production and pest control into perspective.

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Are pheromones a kind of insecticide?-

Insect pheromones used for control of pest populations are not true “insecticides” because they do not kill insects. They influence insect behavior and disrupt the mating process, which in turn will keep populations at a lower level.

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