Aphids inflict inconvenience and damage for both farmers and home gardeners.
Releasing ladybugs, which prey on aphids, is an effective and eco-friendly means of combating aphids.
However, the use of ladybugs for biological control isn’t always the best option, especially in open or outdoor growing spaces where insects can take flight when they want to.
Aphids are aware and afraid of ladybugs, so researchers at Penn State University took advantage of that fear to drive away pests by employing ladybug odor.
A prior study found that aphids show physiological responses to the presence of ladybugs. This includes vacating areas where ladybugs are present, lowering their reproductive rate, and sometimes, creating wings to fly away.
Aphids use their sense of smell to track ladybugs. This drove Sara Hermann, lead author of the study, to find out exactly what odor of a ladybug delivers a strong response to the aphids.
After exposing the aphids to several compounds or scents released by ladybugs, Hermann revealed that pests showed the highest sensitivity to methoxypyrazines.
Using the collected data, the researchers then created a diffuser that could spread the ladybug odor. The field testing is currently being conducted.
This approach could be a new way to get rid of pests without needing to keep ladybugs around.