[Pharmwaste] Gender-bending pest control
dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Wed Mar 5 17:13:33 EST 2008
Gender-bending pest control
By Gareth Lewis
IT IS the fatal attraction of the pest control world.
One moment a male insect is happily going about his business looking for female company, the next he is caught in a gender-bending trap.
Once inside, the hapless male finds himself covered in female pheromone powder.
But it is when he is released that his ordeal really begins. He is now a sexual magnet for other males, who swarm around him in a bid to mate.
The mistaken males then add to the confusion as they too become covered in the feminine scent and act as fresh lure for their fellows.
The environmentally-friendly technique, using cutting-edge technology developed in Hampshire, has proved a boon to organic farmers who can effectively control crop-destroying pests without the use of pesticides and could have far ranging impact on farming.
T h e "Exosex" is already used by the Covent Garden Opera House to ward off moths devouring its lavish costumes.
Previously it took 13 seamstresses to control the damage done by the voracious creatures to expensive costumes until the technological breakthrough turned their mating behaviour against them.
The Exosex has also been employed by orchards to organically defeat apple-munching codling moths Currently, just three per cent of organic apples sold in the UK are British grown but with these new techniques, growers hope to be able to bring this amount up to more than 70 per cent.
The method could also help hard-pressed farmers across the third world produce more food without the need for expensive imported chemicals.
Colden Common pest control firm Exosect, which was set up after the technology was developed at the University of Southampton, has received £3.3m investment to dramatically expand.
Impressed with the technique, a consortium of private investors have backed the firm with £3.3m to finance an expansion into Italy, Holland, Spain, France, Austria, Switzerland and other international markets.
Rebecca Todd, of one of the investor firms, Oxford Capital Partners, said: "At a time when we are all becoming increasingly concerned about the way our food is produced, we are excited by the innovative tools Exosect is offering to tackle the real challenge of managing pests in a sustainable way, a challenge faced by many industries, but particularly growers and suppliers of our food."
Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email: dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address: www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
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Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
PPCPs, EDCs, and Microconstituents
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