They investigate the smell of ladybugs as a natural pesticide

They investigate the smell of ladybugs as a natural pesticide

Pesticides are frequently used in agriculture to prevent damage to crops from possible pests. However, these pesticides contain chemicals that end up leaching into the inner layers of the soil and contaminating groundwater. This makes it necessary to find various ways to create natural pesticides to avoid contamination. A study revealed that the odor emitted by ladybugs can effectively deter aphids, a common agricultural pest, from feeding and reproducing.

Therefore, in this article we are going to tell you what the findings of the study are and how the The smell of ladybugs can serve as a natural pesticide.

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Natural pesticides and insecticides are those that use the chemicals of various insects as a form of natural competition to avoid pests. A study focused on the smell of the ladybug in order to avoid the aphid infestation has discovered several findings.

Sara Hermann of Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences led a research team that successfully created an innovative pest control solution. This innovative tool exploits the chemical ecology of predator-prey relationships between ladybugs and aphids.

The results of their research were documented in the journal Basic and Applied Ecology, and they have also taken steps to protect their innovation by filing a provisional patent application. The team found that the smell of ladybugs can serve as a natural deterrent to specific pests.

Although ladybugs are known for their insatiable appetite for aphids, small insects that devour various types of plants, Hermann has dedicated his studies to explore non-consumptive interactions between these organisms. What intrigued her was the aphid's remarkable ability to detect and interpret the different odors emitted by ladybugs, using this odor as a signal to modify its behavior in order to evade predation.

According to Hermann, an assistant professor specializing in arthropod ecology and trophic interactions, the main goal is to encourage innovative thinking beyond traditional boundaries.

The purpose of the study

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The goal of the study is to better understand the impact of fear of predation on behavior and physiology. To achieve this, they began by examining the broader ecological aspects of agricultural systems to design effective interventions. Taking advantage of the understanding of existing ecological interactions, You can collaborate with nature instead of opposing it.

In his research, Hermann examines how aphids react to the odors emitted by ladybugs and analyzes the chemical composition of these fragrances. This study, featured in a recent PBS Terra video, is a collaborative effort with the Center for Chemical Ecology at the Huck Institutes of Life Sciences at Penn State.

In 2021, Hermann and his research team successfully identified the main components of the scent emitted by ladybugs. Through their research, they also made a notable finding: The mere presence of this smell has the ability to provoke specific behaviors in aphids. To communicate potential threats to nearby aphids, researchers disperse the ladybugs' scent into the surrounding air.

Experiments with ladybugs

Through a series of experiments, scientists have discovered that aphids show a lower inclination toward plants that emit the ladybug odor. In a recent publication by Hermann in Basic and Applied Ecology, it was further revealed that the introduction of ladybug odors not only decreased the feeding duration of aphids but also resulted in a 25% decline in their population.

Hermann suggests that fragrance components can be manufactured on a large scale, which he anticipates will make this intervention more available for development and market launch. Recently, Hermann and his co-author Jessica Kansman, who is an assistant professor of plant sciences and plant pathology at Montana State University, obtained a patent for the scent. This patent could allow the product to be used as a pest repellent by both commercial companies and the general public.

According to Hermann, research indicates that simply introducing The smell of ladybugs could be an effective means of controlling aphid populations, at least temporarily. This discovery opens up exciting possibilities for further research into using similar chemicals as a possible solution.

In the field of pest management, the concept of “mating disruption” emerged as an innovative approach that uses pheromones to manipulate pest behavior through similar chemical ecological processes.

According to Hermann, these efforts, led by Tom Baker, a distinguished professor of entomology, have seen widespread success in fruit growing systems. While mating disruption aims to impede the ability of pests that rely on sex pheromones to find suitable mates, Hermann's research takes a different approach than use predator odors to instill a “fear of predation” in pests, thus decreasing their attraction, growth and feeding.

Olfactory intervention

garden pests

Researchers have suggested that the implementation of an olfactory intervention, specifically designed to combat a highly prevalent and destructive aphid species, has great potential as a sustainable agricultural remedy. Unlike other methods used in agriculture that aim to eliminate aphids, it is expected that This particular treatment prevents the development of resistance problems commonly associated with pesticide use.

In the future, Hermann expressed plans to delve into the broader implications of introducing ladybug scent to agricultural fields. Additionally, his research team will explore the interaction between predators and prey in different species, including new predators and parasitoids that rely on insect larvae as hosts.

Hermann said that in collaboration with the Huck Center for Chemical Ecology, they are harnessing the potential of various natural chemicals and ecological phenomena. “Given the increasing importance of environmental concerns in our current era, our unwavering dedication to implementing sustainable practices inspired by nature is not only hopeful, but absolutely essential for the well-being and longevity of our planet. "

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the effectiveness of ladybugs as a natural pesticide.

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