Jamming Leafhopper Signals

Jamming Leafhopper Signals to Reduce Insect Populations that Vector Plant Disease

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

 

An innovative team of researchers at the San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center, USDA Agricultural Research Services (ARS) in Parlier Calif., are trying to confuse leafhopper communication in hopes of reducing certain devastating plant diseases. Of particular interest is the glassy-winged sharpshooter, a large leafhopper that can vector or spread the bacteria Xylella fastidiosa from one plant to another which causes devastating plant diseases such as Pierce’s disease in grapes and almond leaf scorch

 

Dr. Rodrigo Krugner, a research entomologist on the USDA-ARS Parlier team since 2007, explained, “We started on this glassy-winged sharpshooter communication project about two years ago. These insects use substrate-borne vibrations, or sounds, to talk to, identify and locate each other; actually do courtship; and then mate,” Krugner said.

Click here to hear LEAFHOPPER SOUNDS!

Glassywinged Sharp Shooter
Glassywinged Sharp Shooter

 

“This area of research started probably 40, or 50 years ago with development of a commercially-available laser doppler vibrometer (LDV), a scientific instrument used to make non-contact vibration measurements of a surface,” Krugner said. “Commonly used in the automotive and aerospace engineering industries, the LDV enabled an entomologist to listen to and amplify leafhoppers communicating,” Krugner said. “We’ve been doing recordings in the laboratory, learning about their communication with the idea of breaking, or disrupting, that communication. Once we disrupt that, we can disrupt mating and thereby reduce their numbers in vineyards and among other crops.”

 

Krugner noted the research team is evaluating two different approaches: one is to discover signals that disrupt their communication, and the other is lure them away from crops or towards a trap. “We may be looking at female calls, for example. An analogous system would be the pheromones, or long-range attraction volatile chemicals released by female lepidoptera, to attract males.” However, since leafhoppers use only sound, Krugner said, “We’re trying to come up with signals to disrupt their mating communication. We’re also looking at signals to jam their frequency range, 4000-6000 Hz, so they cannot hear each other,” Kruger said. “We’re also looking at signals that can be used to aggregate them, or lure them, into one section of a crop, or maybe repel them from the crop. These are all different approaches that we’re investigating right now.”

 

Krugner explained, “Researchers are attempting to perfect the disruptive sounds in order to do the things we need—to actually implement a management strategy for disrupting not only glassy-winged sharpshooter, but anything in a vineyard that actually communicates using vibrational communication. We know what they are saying to each other, which is very important. In the laboratory, the signals that we have look promising in disrupting the communication of these insects, so we’re taking them into the field.

 

Current mating disruption trials are underway in Fresno State vineyards. “We’re going to finish that research, hopefully, next year,” said Krugner, adding, “usually, fieldwork takes two to three years to show something.”


(Featured photo:  Rodrigo Krugner, research entomologist, USDA-ARS, Parlier)


 

More California Ag News

Beet Curly Top Virus Alert for Growers BCTV Grower Alert by Laurie Greene, California Ag Today reporter California Department of Food and Agriculture's Beet Curly Top Virus Control Progra...
New Website Launched to Promote Yes Vote on Pierce... Pierce's Disease Website to Help Inform Winegrape Grower/Vintner Community Winegrape growers and vintners anxious to better understand why their “yes...
UC ANR Horticulture Advisor Retires After 28 Years John Kabashima wrapped up his horticultural career on July 1, after 28 years with University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Nursery ...
Location! Location! Location! UC ANR Research and Extension Centers Strategically Located By Charmayne Hefly, Assistant Editor, California Ag Today Bill Frost is the director o...

Semios Approved for Navel Orangeworm Control

Semios Aerosol Pheromone Approved for Navel Orangeworm Control


Announced TODAY, Semios, a leading provider of real-time agricultural information and precision pest management tools, has received US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval and California Department of Pest Regulation (DPR) approval for aerosol pheromone biopesticide products that disrupt the mating of the Navel Orangeworm (NOW).  
Michael Gilbert, founder and CEO of Semios said, “The Navel Orangeworm pest causes significant loss of crop and revenue in the California almond and pistachio industries, and it’s getting worse every year.  The Semios NOW pheromone aerosol formulas give farmers the ability to reduce and control pest populations and, as a result, significantly reduce crop damage.  The Semios pheromone aerosol dispenser is part of a custom-designed controller and sensor network that gives farmers decision-making tools and remote access to the field conditions in real-time- all day, every day.”

Remote Control Makes it Highly Effective

The Semios platform includes in-field camera traps that monitor the number of pests and flight strength, which when combined with wind, temperature and other environmental conditions measured and reported by Semios, optimize pheromone deployment.  The combination of traps, pheromone dispensers and other sensors on the same network means farmers can deploy the right amount of pheromones where and when needed through a single interface.

A Destructive Pest for Many Crops

NOW is the most destructive pest of introduced nut crops. Semios NOW Plus and Semios NOW Standard (for organic growers) are available for control of NOW in orchards growing walnuts, pistachios, almonds, dates, figs, citrus, pome and stone fruits.

 

Sustainable Solution

Pheromones are a naturally occurring part of the communication systems used by insects.  Semios uses pheromones to disrupt the mating cycle of insects, thus diminishing pest populations and reducing crop damage.  Pheromones do not kill or damage the target insects and, as pheromones are species-specific and only target the specific pest, pollinators and other beneficial insect species are not affected.

_______________________________

About Semios

Semios is a leading precision farming platform that provides real-time information and pest management tools for the tree fruit, nut and grape growers.   Semios combines hardware with powerful secure online software that monitors field and weather conditions and allows remote pest monitoring and deployment of mating disruption pheromones. It’s easy to use, reduces labor and allows farmers to make decisions that preserve and increase crop value.

More California Ag News

BIG WATER RALLY SCHEDULED FOR JAN. 16! Thousands Needed To Participate In Big Water Rally on Jan. 16  
Solano County 4-H Clubs Win Big at Skills Day When Life Gives you Lemons, Make Lemon Curd! Showmanship winner Tyler Scott of the Wolfskill 4-H Club DIXON--Tyler Scott of the...
California Ag News UC To Help Ranchers UC to Help Ranchers Survive Winter 2013-14 The first agricultural operations to feel the impact of a drought are dryland ranchers, many of whom r...
MONTEREY FARM BUREAU WARNS CPUC ON WATER ISSUES Desalination Plant Could Jeopardize Groundwater Supply California American Water could threaten the ground water supply of the Salinas Valley where u...