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Pheromones: A time line of adoption into pest management.

Pheromones: A time line of adoption into pest management.

1970: French naturalist Jean-Henri Fabre notices a female peacock moth can attract 150 male peacock moths from miles away. New York entomologist Joseph A Linner suggests that chemical scents emitted by insects could be used to control insect pests.

1957: German Biologists Dietrich Schneider develops the electroantennogram (EAG), a method for using the antenna of a moth to detect pheromones electrically.

1959: German biochemist Peter Karlson and Swiss entomologist Martin Luscher coin the term ‘Pheromone’ to describe a compound an animal gives off that triggers a specific behavioural or developmental reaction in a member of the same species. German chemist Adolf Butenandt isolates and characterizes the first insect pheromone, that of the domestic silk worm moth.

1960: U.S. Department of Agriculture chemist Morton Beroza reports his idea of using sex pheromones to disrupt insect mating. Pheromone researches begin to use gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance along with EAG to identify insect pheromones.

1961: Colin G Butler identifies the pheromone of the honey bee, the first pheromone that regulates the development of an insect.

1966: Chemist Robert Silverstein and entomologist David Wood demonstrate that all three components or the bark beetles pheromone blend are required to attract the beetles – a phenomenon known as synergism.

1967: Entomologist Harry Shorey shows that perhomones can be used to disrupt the mating of cabbage looper moths in the field.

1970: British biologist John Kennedy develops the wind tunnel assay. Farmers begin to use pheromones for monitoring insect pests in order to reduce insecticide use.

1971: Wendell Roelofs uses EAG as an analytical tool to identify the codling moth pheromone.

1978: First pheromone is registered in the United States for commercial use in mating disruption, against the pink bollworm on cotton.

1980: Pheromones are used in more than a million traps to capture more than four billion beetles, curbing an epidemic of bark beetles in the forests of Norway and Sweden.

1990’s: Pheromones used for mating disruption effectively help curb insect damage in stone pitted fruit orchards and tomato, rice, cotton and grape fields.