Team:Valencia UPV/Project/modules/moths behavior


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Moths Behaviour

The Idea

You better know your enemy before starting a fight. Moths, flying insects from the order Lepidoptera, cause great damage in crops all over the world. We aim to avoid damages caused by them, so understanding their behaviour is a main issue for us. We focused in their sexual behaviour to look for an elegant strategy to fight them.

Moth Sexual Behavior

Moth individuals within the same specie communicate with each other using volatile chemical compounds called “sex pheromones”. Female moths generate several pheromone compounds in their sex pheromone gland, at the tip of their abdomen, and release them in certain ratios. Male moths locate the females of their own species, by tracing these compounds in species-specific ratios [1]. Offspring derived from this encounter is the cause of damage in crops.

Pheromone-based Pest Control in Moths


Some experts indicate that "The direct management of insect pests using pheromones can provide excellent suppression of key lepidopteran pests in agriculture" [2]. If a high concentration of the major pheromone component (the most abundant pheromone for a specie) is present in the air, this may lead to a "nonresponsive outcome". Fatigue or adaptation of the male's pheromone sensory organs are the cause of this [2]. This strategy is called mating disruption.

Figure 1. Helicoverpa armigers


Traditional pest control strategies based on pesticides are non-specific and affect the target along with other species (bees, humans, etc.), which can cause ecological problems [3]. However, pheromone-based pest control strategies are more species-specific than pesticides and they target a narrower range of species. They have shown no effect on pest species outside of a "cropping system, reducing the risk of outbreak of a secondary pest.

Sexy Plant uses this pheromone-based mating-disruption strategy to avoid damages in crops and becomes an environmentally-friendly choice in pest control.


  1. Vogel H, Heidel AJ, Heckel DG, Groot AT (2010) Transcriptome analysis of the sex pheromone gland of the noctuid moth Heliothis virescens. BMC Genomics 11: 29.
  2. Welter SC, Pickel C, Millar J, Cave F, Steenwyk RAV, et al. (2005) Pheromone mating disruption offers selective management options for key pests. California Agriculture 59: 16-22.
  3. Brittain C, Potts SG (2011) The potential impacts of insecticides on the life-history traits of bees and the consequences for pollination. Basic and Applied Ecology 12: 321-331.