Oct. 30, 2014
A new discovery may lead to the creation of effective, new weapons for use against destructive insects.
The results hold promise for both citrus growers and people who live with infestations of mosquito-borne diseases.
A team at the University of California, Riverside, has identified odor molecules that attract selected insects. By taking advantage of the creatures’ sense of smell, they have developed control techniques.
Of immediate concern in Florida is the need for protection against the Asian citrus psyllid, the vector responsible for transmitting citrus greening disease.
The California group found that three specific citrus plant odors activate sensors in the insect’s olfactory system. They applied this knowledge by combining the odors to create a bait. In a series of tests they successfully developed an efficient attractant that lured the creature into a sticky trap.
Team members also identified odor molecules that disrupt the carbon dioxide and skin odor detection capabilities of mosquitoes. Repellents derived from this work could be used to control the spread of various mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever and West Nile virus.
The odor-lure technology has been licensed to a private firm. For more information about the research, visit http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/25382.