American Chemical Society scientists said that they were able to replicate the “smell of fear” emitted by predator insects when preying on harmful plant bugs. The bottled concoction can be introduced as natural repellents against plant pests, since most bugs have become immune to traditional pesticides. However, they recognize the smell of predatory insects in ways that cause them to change their eating behavior.
Scientists Explain Rationale Behind Their Innovation
Jessica Kansman, Ph.D. a postdoctorate graduate at the Pennsylvania State University, said that insects utilize their olfactory senses in locating places to live, food, and mates, making this a great chance to study how smells manipulate their behavior. Aphids are a bothersome issue for growers as they are highly destructive and comes in large numbers. They also seem to be impervious to insecticides and have exhibited the ability to transfer plant pathogens. As a solution, gardeners welcome the presence of ladybugs in their gardens, as a means of pest management and control, since aphids are their favorite food.
Sara Hermann PhD, another researcher said their findings also revealed that herbivorous insects like aphids tend to avoid gardens and fields if they smell nearby predators. Moreover, their exposure to odor cues produced by ladybugs can also affect their ability to grow wings, as well as decelerate their reproduction rates.
Their team of researchers intends to run field tests of their scent diffusers to observe its effects on ladybugs and aphids to see whether they are similar in their lab observation. Their plan is to identify the diffuser dispersal areas, and whether the pest repellent apply to other types of plant pests for various kinds of crops. Moreover, they are also partnering with a manufacturing company that will design special diffusers once the natural repellents are released commercially.