Males Getting Very Confused and Frustrated in the Frontier States

Check out this dispatch from forests of the Midwest USA by Agenor Mafra-Neto, ISCA’s  CEO and President:

Siren, Wisconsin, 16th of July, 2019.

Today the Slow the Spread Program Gypsy Moth (STS-GM) finished its annual aerial application of SPLAT GM-O to suppress mating of this pest over the eleven states where the population is expanding. ISCA Technologies’ organic, long-lasting, biodegradable sex pheromone formulation controls gypsy moth populations by suppressing mating. Yellow airplanes have been spreading SPLAT GM-O across thousands of acres of forests and wooded areas where this benign biodegradable formulation is deposited as small points. These point sources will emit for months a synthetic pheromone plume emulating those that are emitted by virgin female gypsy moths attempting to attract mates.

Males’ efforts to find females to mate by following the airborne sex pheromone trails are being frustrated in SPLAT GM-O treated areas due to the sheer number of synthetic “female” scented point sources. Males visit and courtship these very attractive synthetic “females” instead of natural females. This causes females to go unmated, and thus, to lay unfertilized eggs: the result is the collapse of the next generation of gypsy moths. The amazing thing is that this effective control of gypsy moths on a continental scale is all done without using pesticide to kill a single moth!

Gypsy moth Caterpillars feeding on an oak leaf.

The Gypsy moth feeds on over 300 species of trees, defoliating millions of hectares, which can cause extensive tree mortality, reduce property value, adversely affect commerce, and cause intensive allergic reactions throughout range area of the pest.

Most of the US forest (almost 70%) have not been infested by gypsy moth, but it is still at risk. STS-GM deploys a region-wide strategy using SPLAT GM-O and other tools to minimize the rate at which gypsy moth spreads westwards into the uninfested susceptible hardwood forests in the United States.

Congress funded the Slow the Spread Program (STS) in the year 2000, which is implemented in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service on the eleven states along the westward leading edge of gypsy moth population expansion. As a direct result of this program, the spread of gypsy moth has been dramatically reduced by more than 70% from the historical level of 13 miles per year to only 3 miles per year. In its first 6 years, this program prevented the impacts that would have occurred on more than 40 million newly infested acres, and when it reaches its second decade, it would have denied more than 150 million acres to this voracious pest.

The cost-benefit ratio is more than 4 to 1 due to the delay of the onset of impacts that occur as gypsy moth invades new areas.

The monitoring of over 60 thousand pheromone traps across the leading edge of gypsy moth expansion indicates where STS will need to do the application of SPLAT GM-O next year. ISCA Technologies has been working together with the USDA Forest Service and STS Foundation for over a decade, developing tools and solutions for the longest and largest area-wide pheromone mating disruption program in the globe, preventing the deleterious impact of gypsy moth on millions of susceptible acres of forest.

The success of this program is a great example of the ingenuity and tenacity of the hard-working people from the USDA Forest Services, all the involved states, the STS-GM Foundation, the private companies that provide the services, and, of course the people from ISCA Tech and its effective SPLAT GM-O pheromone formulation.