ABS 2022
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Anthropogenic interference with moths’ sexual communication induces avoidance response
Rakefet Sharon1,2, Ally Harari3. 1Northern R&D, MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute, Kiryat Sh’mona, , Israel; 2Department of Science & Environment, Ohalo Campus, Tel-Hai College, Upper Galilee, , Israel; 3Department of Entomology, The Volcani Center, Bet Dagan , , Israel

Anthropogenic intervention with sexual communication via mating disruption (MD) is a common pest control method. The synthetic, species-specific sex pheromone, saturated environment hampers males' ability to locate females for mating. However, males and females may persist in their attempts to mate, affecting their behavioral decisions.
Studies of pests treated with MD have reported significantly higher damage in the fields' margins. This phenomenon is attributed to the invasion of gravid females from adjacent fields. We suggest that this may also be ascribed to females' avoidance of areas with high pheromone concentration, conceived as intense competition for resources. We studied the dispersal under MD of the codling moth, a worldwide pest of apples. We found that females fly from high pheromone concentration to the relatively low pheromone concentration in field borders. The high female density in the margins allows for random mating encounters and increases the pest's reproductive success. Thus, continuous pheromone coverage in space and time, using the MD method, combined with restricted host-plant species, push mate encounters and oviposition to the orchard's borders.