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Queens Anniversary Prizes 2015

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Chemical Ecology - Pheromone Technology for Management of Capsid Pests to Reduce Pesticide Use in Horticultural Crops

Funding: Defra
Link Countries: UK
Collaborators: East Malling Research (EMR)
Industrial Collaborators: Horticultural Development Council, (GlaxoSmithKline Blackcurrant growers research fund), GlaxoSmithKline, East Malling Trust, East Malling Ltd, Agrisense, Cucumber Growers Association, K G Growers Ltd, Donald J Moor, Nichol Farm, Teynham
NRI Project Leader: David Hall


Capsid bugs (Heteroptera, Miridae, Mirinae) are common and important pests of many horticultural and some agricultural crops world wide. Three of the most important in the UK are the European tarnished plant bug, Lygus rugulipennis, the common green capsid, Lygocoris pabulinus, and the nettle capsid, Liocoris tripustulatus. In conventional crops they are controlled by sprays of broad-spectrum insecticides, organophosphorus insecticides being the most effective and frequently used. Neonicotinoids and other modern insecticide groups are only partially effective against capsids and insect growth regulators are totally ineffective. In organic crops they casue high levels of damage because insecticides available are inadequate and of short persistence. Capsids have few natural enemies and effective biocontrol methods have not been developed for them. They present a bottle neck in the development of IPM programmes. Lygus rugulipennis Lygus pabulinus Lygus tripustulatus

Lygus rugulipennis, Lygus pabulinus, Lygus tripustulatus
© University of Greenwich


The identity of the female sex pheromone components of L. rugulipennis and L pabulinus will be confirmed and the components of the sex pheromone of L. tripustulatus identified. Laboratory windtunnel bioassay methods for each species will be developed to permit testing under controlled conditions essentially throughout the year. Laboratory and field experiments will be done to investigate the effects of pheromone blend, dispenser design and pheromone release rate on attractiveness for each species. Based on these results, lures and traps for monitoring these pests in commercial crops will be developed. Importantly, this will include development and refinement of cost-effective, practical dispensers for use with capsid pheromones. Lack of these has been a major barrier in capsid pheromone research in general. The responses of the capsids to host plant volatiles will also be investigated. Traps will be calibrated to determine treatment thresholds and tested in commercial practice. The use of the traps to time applications of selective insecticides such as pymetrozine will also be investigated.


microcap© University of Greenwich

In previous work on L. rugulipennis, female-specific compounds were identified and blends were shown to be attractive only when dispensed from microcapillary dispensers. In current work all three species of capsid have been reared in the laboratory. Good attraction of male L. rugulipennis to traps baited ith virgin females has been achieved, but synthetic lures (right) have proved relatively unattractive. Work is in progress to develop a laboratory bioassay and to determine the diel periodicity of pheromone production in this species and subsequently the other two. Experiments are also being carried out with L. hesperus and L. lineolaris in the US.

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