new era in insect pest monitoring in forestry arrives
of moth use chemical signals to facilitate mate location and thereby
ensure fertilisation of the female. Such chemicals have long been used
in the northern hemisphere as tools to assist with population monitoring
and even for the management of some forest Lepidoptera. In 1999 a collaborative
project supported by the CRC-SPF and involving Austrian, Swedish and
Australian experts began to determine the existence, identity and efficacy
of the female sex pheromone of the Autumn gum moth (Mnesampela privata).
This project's ultimate objective was to develop a sex pheromone lure
for monitoring populations of Autumn gum moth in plantations. Such a
lure would be more cost effective than light trapping for moths because
the lures would work for longer, attract only the Autumn gum moth and
need less labour to maintain.
The glands of female moths were extracted and the chemical components
contained within surveyed using gas chromatography (GC, using a flame
ionisation detector, FID). Gas chromatography in combination with simultaneous
electroantennographic detection (EAD) was then used to determine which
of these compounds the antennae of male moths responded to. When an
'active peak' was identified, gas chromatography in combination with
mass spectroscopy (MS) was used to determine the chemical composition
of the active compounds.
When the chemical identity of an active compound had been established,
a synthetic analogue from overseas collaborators was obtained for further
EAD studies. This synthetic analogue elicited a reaction in male antennae
comparable to a compound extracted from female organs.
Field trapping with synthetic lures, prepared using the synthetic sex
pheromone analogue and virgin female moths, began at experimental sites
around Canberra in 2002 to determine their relative efficacies in attracting
male moths. Male moths were caught in the synthetic sex pheromone lures
in similar numbers to the numbers of males caught in traps baited with
virgin females. Hence the existence and identity of the sex pheromone
of Autumn gum moth has been confirmed under both laboratory and field
conditions. Further work with a Swedish collaborator is planned for
2002/3003 to refine the use of the lures. When these studies are complete
the potential to commercialise the lure will be investigated.
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21 May, 2003