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Individual Highlight

Lure Developed for Killer of Louisiana Baldcypress

Photo of Baldcypress leafroller adult and empty pupal case on a baldcypress shoot. Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State UniversityBaldcypress leafroller adult and empty pupal case on a baldcypress shoot. Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State UniversitySnapshot : The land surface of southern Louisiana is sinking as an unintended consequence of humans channeling water flow. Persistent and deeper flooding of baldcypress forests is stressing these magnificent trees, and it has triggered an outbreak of a previously undetected moth pest: the baldcypress leafroller. Forest Service scientists have identified and reproduced this moth's sex pheromone, which can be used as a lure in traps to detect new and growing populations. The pheromone might also be released within forests to divert mate-seeking male moths and provide an insecticide-free method for controlling this pest in a highly sensitive environment.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Sullivan, Brian 
Research Location : Southern Louisiana Swampland
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 725

Summary

The land surface of southern Louisiana is sinking as an unwanted result of humans channeling water flow. Constant and deeper flooding of baldcypress forests is stressing these magnificent trees, and it has triggers an outbreak of a previously undetected moth pest: the baldcypress leafroller. The caterpillars of these moths can completely consume a tree's leaves, and young baldcypress die if this happens for several years in a row. Such loss of young trees will likely hinder regrowth of cypress forests following a large-scale harvest that is planned in the near future. Sex pheromones, chemicals released into the air by female moths to entice mates, are highly attractive to male moths. By using a variety of chemical analytical methods, Forest Service scientists identified andreproduced the chemical composition of the sex pheromone of the baldcypress leafroller. The synthetic pheromone has been formulated into an artificial lure that is strongly attractive to male moths and can be an important tool in efforts to preserve and restore baldcypress forests. Baited traps detect and monitor moth populations to help identify at-risk forests; furthermore, moth pheromone lures can be distributed throughout the forest as a means to "distract" males and keep the moths from reproducing. This technique might provide an insecticide-free method for controlling this pest in a highly sensitive environment.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Dr. Jeremy Allison, previously at the Department of Entomology, Louisiana State University, and currently with Natural Resources Canada
  • Dr. Richard Goyer, Department of Entomology, Louisiana State University (retired)

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