Leopold Center
U.S. Department of Agriculture



Many female insects release a species-specific sex pheromone to attract males for the purpose of mating. When male insects of the same species detect the pheromone, they then orient themselves upwind in the direction of the pheromone source and travel to it.

The concept of mating disruption in insect pest management involves the widespread release of synthetic sex pheromone over a target crop to disrupt the premating communication between the sexes of a given pest, resulting in a decrease of the pest’s density in subsequent generations.

There are several lepidopterous pests that have been managed at commercially acceptable levels with the pheromone-mediated mating disruption technique.


Implementing Mating Disruption

The orchard or treated block should have most of the following characteristics:

  1. Minimum of three to five acres
  2. Uniform canopy height
  3. Fairly level
  4. Square or rectangle shape
  5. Relatively isolated
  6. Low to moderate codling moth density
When using the most commonly used mating disruption product, Isomate-C Plus dispenser by Pacific Biocontrol*,
  1. Isomate-C Plus dispensers must be in place before the first moth flight (usually occurs around the red delicious full bloom period).
  2. Place the dispenser within the top few feet of the canopy
  3. Use of pheromones should be supplemented with insecticides if: the orchard has a history of codling moth problems, damage the previous year was more than 1%, and monitoring of codling moth the previous season indicated high pressure.
  4. Any insecticide recommended for codling moth control can be used as a supplement to pheromones.

* from the 2001 Crop Protection Guide for Tree Fruits in Washington, Publication EB0419, page 34.

Email: mgleason@iastate.edu Telephone: (515) 294 0579 Address: 312 Bessey Hall, Iowa State University, Ames IA 50011