Weihman & Liburd: Control of Grape Root Borer
MATING DISRUPTION AND ATTRACT-AND-KILL AS REDUCED-RISK
STRATEGIES FOR CONTROL OF GRAPE ROOT BORER VITACEA
POLISTIFORMIS (LEPIDOPTERA: SESIIDAE) IN FLORIDA VINEYARDS
SCOTT W. WEIHMAN AND OSCAR E. LIBURD
Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611
Mating disruption and attract-and-kill (A&K) gels were evaluated for control of grape root
borer (GRB), Vitacea polistiformis Harris (Lepidoptera:Sessidae), in Florida grape (Vitis sp.)
vineyards. For mating disruption, pheromone twist-ties with leopard moth, Zeuzera pyrina
L. (Lepidoptera: Cossidae), pheromone were placed in vines at a rate of 635 per ha. Attract-
and-kill (A&K) gels containing the GRB pheromone and a pyrethrin (botanical insecticide)
were applied to vine trunks at a rate of 112.5 g per hectare. These treatments were compared
with chlorpyrifos (Lorsban), an organophosphate insecticide, and an untreated control in a
randomized complete block design. Two wing-style sticky traps with GRB pheromone were
placed in each treatment to monitor male moth activity and determine levels of trap shut-
down. Complete trap shutdown occurred in the twist-tie sections for both 2003 and 2004 sug-
gesting disruption of mating. Traps placed in the A&K and the pheromone twist-tie sections
caught significantly fewer GRB than the Lorsban treatments in 2003. In 2004, significantly
fewer moths were caught in the pheromone twist-tie and Lorsban treatments than the A&K
and untreated controls. The differences between 2003 and 2004 for A&K treatments were
due to the use of the incorrect pheromone blend in the 2004 batch of A&K. Whereas the dif-
ferences in Lorsban treatments between both years may be related to residual activity of the
pesticide. The economics of adopting A&K and mating disruption with twist-ties containing
leopard moth pheromone is discussed. Both A&K and mating disruption with the leopard
moth pheromone show promise as reduced-risk control tactics to be used in a GRB inte-
grated pest management program and warrant further study.
Key Words: grape root borer, Vitacea polistiformis, mating disruption, attracticides, off-blend
Sistemas de confusion de atracci6n sexual y geles para atraer y eliminar, fueron evaluados
para el control de Vitacea polistiformis Harris (Lepidoptera: Sessidae) en vifias de Florida. En
el sistema de confusion de la atracci6n sexual, se utilizaron "twist-ties" con feromonas de Zeu-
zera pyrina L. (Lepidoptera: Cossidae). Seiscientos treinta y cinco unidades de este atrayente
fueron usados por hectarea. El gel para atraer y eliminar usando una mezcla de feromonas de
V polistiformis y pyrethrin insecticidea botanico) se aplico en una dosis de 112.5 g/ha. Estos
tratamientos fueron comparados con chlorpyrifos (Lorsban), un insecticide organofosforado, y
con un control sin ningun tratamiento quimico, usando un diseno de bloques completes al
azar. Dos trampas adhesivas con feromona de V polistiformis se colocaron en cada trata-
miento para monitorear la actividad de los machos. Los tratamientos con "twist-ties" consi-
guieron confundir los machos al punto que no se capture ninguno en las trampas en 2003 6
2004 sugiriendo que no hubo c6pula. Las trampas colocadas en el tratamiento con "twist-ties"
y con gel para atraer y eliminar, capturaron significativamente menos machos que las tram-
pas colocadas en los tratamientos con Lorsban en 2003. En 2004, significativamente menos
machos fueron capturados en los tratamientos con Lorsban y con "twist-ties" que los trata-
mientos que usaron el gel o que en el control sin tratamiento. Las diferencias entire 2003 y
2004 para el tratamiento de atraer y eliminar se debi6 a la el uso de una mezcla incorrect de
feromonas en 2004. La diferencia de las captures en los tratamientos con Lorsban puede estar
relacionada con la actividad en el residue del pesticide. Las ventajas y desventajas econ6mi-
cas de el uso de estas dos tecnologias son discutido en el articulo Ambos tratamientos, el gel y
los "twist-ties" con feromonas de Z. pyrina, son promisorios como candidates para incluir en
un program de manejo integrado de V polistiformis y merece mas studios en el future.
Translation provided by the authors.
The grape root borer (GRB), Vitacea polistifor- 2004). Larvae feed on the roots, resulting in re-
mis (Harris) (Lepidoptera: Sesiidae), is the key duced yields and eventually, death of the vine. In
pest of grapes (Vitis spp.) in Florida (Liburd et al. severe cases, entire vineyards are lost (Dutcher &
Florida Entomologist 89(2)
All 1979). Traditionally, chlorpyrifos (Lorsban 4E)
has been used as a soil drench to control primarily
first instars as they move to the soil surface and
enter the soil seeking roots, and newly emerged
adults. Lorsban, an organophosphate, is sus-
pected of being carcinogenic (Food Quality Protec-
tion Act 1996) and its future use is not certain.
The potential for modifying an insect pest's be-
havior through the use of pheromones in order to
control its impact on a crop has been investigated
widely in the last 30 years. Mating disruption
first proved to be successful in controlling cab-
bage looper moths, Trichoplusia ni (Hubner)
(Shorey et al. 1967), and since then has been used
successfully on a number of insect pests (Carde &
Minks 1995). Among the sesiids, some success has
been obtained with the currant clearing moth
Synanthedon tipuliformis (Clerck) (Carde &
Minks 1995), the peachtree borer Synanthedon
exitosa (Say), and the lesser peachtree borer
S. pictipes (Grote and Robinson) (Yonce 1981).
Pheromone twist-ties with GRB pheromone,
99% (E,Z)-2,13-octadecadien-1-ol: 1% (Z,Z)-3-13-
ocadecadien-1-ol [99% (E,Z)-2,13-ODDA: 1%
(Z,Z)-3,13-ODDA] (Snow et al. 1987) have shown
great potential as a viable control tactic for GRB
management. Pearson & Meyer (1996) used 254
dispensers per ha in vineyards and examined fe-
males in the treatment plots. They found a signif-
icant reduction in the number of mated GRB fe-
males compared with females taken from the un-
treated controls. Also, Webb (1991) recorded a sig-
nificant reduction in trap-catches, mated females,
and pupal case counts in vineyards treated with
GRB pheromones compared with the untreated
vineyard, potentially indicating a high degree of
Some studies suggest that "off-blends" (incom-
plete pheromones) may work better at mating dis-
ruption than the synthetic pure pheromone blend
that is most similar to the natural pheromone
(Minks & Carde 1988). The mechanisms by which
off-blend pheromones function to inhibit mating
are not well understood. However, one theory is
that the off-blend camouflages the true female
pheromone, rendering it indistinguishable from
the background (Minks & Carde 1988). Another
theory is that by creating a sensory imbalance,
the male becomes attuned to the more predomi-
nant off-blend, and the ratio in the true blend is
interpreted as unnatural (Bartell 1982).
Attract-and-kill (A&K) is a promising new
technology that involves an attractant such as a
pheromone and a toxicant. Unlike mating disrup-
tion, which functions by "confusing" the insect, at-
tract-and-kill technology attracts the insect to a
pesticide laden gel matrix, which, upon contact,
kills the insect. Attract-and-kill has been success-
fully used on several lepidopteran species includ-
ing codling moth (Ebbinghaus et al. 2001), and
Oriental fruit moth (Evenden & McLaughlin
2004). Recently, IPM Tech (Portland, OR) devel-
oped an attracticide for grape root borer, called
Last CallTM GRB, which has not previously been
tested under field conditions.
The overall goal was to evaluate the use of an
off-blend pheromone for mating disruption as
well as an attract-and-kill technique for the con-
trol of grape root borer in Florida vineyards.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Four muscadine grape (Vitis sp.) vineyards with
similar management practices were chosen for this
experiment. All vineyards were pruned annually
in early winter, had similar fertilization schedules,
were treated with glyphosate 3-4 times a year in a
1.2-m band under the trellis, and were mowed be-
tween rows every 2-3 weeks. No other vineyards
occurred within 16 kilometers, but areas of natu-
rally occurring wild grapes were nearby.
Each vineyard consisted of four treatments
and was divided into four, 0.4-ha plots. Treat-
ments included: 1) Mating disruption with phero-
mone twist-ties (Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd. To-
kyo, Japan), 2) Attract-and-kill with Last CallTM
GRB (IPM Tech Portland, OR), 3) Chemical con-
trol with chlorpyrifos (Lorsban 4E) (Dow Agro-
Sciences LLC, Indianapolis IN), and an untreated
control. A 15-m buffer zone was left between
treatments. Experimental design was a random-
ized complete block (blocked by vineyard) with
four treatments and four replicates. Two wing-
style sticky traps baited with the GRB pheromone
[99% (E,Z)-2,13-ODDA: 1% (Z,Z)-3,13 ODDA]
(Great Lakes IPM, Vestaburg, MI) were hung on
the trellis wire at 1.0 to 1.5 m above the ground in
each treatment at least 20 m apart to monitor
populations of male GRB moths. This study was
initiated in the 2003 grape-growing season and
repeated in 2004.
Pheromone twist-ties emitting the leopard
moth, Zeuzera pyrina L. (Lepidoptera: Cossidae)
pheromone (95% (E,Z)-2,13-ODDA: 5% (E,Z)-
3,13-ODDA) (70 mg of active ingredients per unit)
were applied to 0.4-ha treatment plots at a rate of
635 per ha (254 per 0.4 ha), approximately one
twist-tie per vine. The dispensers were evenly dis-
tributed throughout the plot, and hung from the
vine near the trellis wire at roughly 1 to 1.5
meters above the ground.
The leopard moth pheromone has not been pre-
viously tested in GRB mating disruption experi-
ments. We chose to use this off-blend pheromone
because it contains the same major component as
the GRB pheromone and it is commercially avail-
able and significantly cheaper. Also, the findings
of Johnson & Mayes (1980); Johnson et al. (1981,
1986); and Pearson & Meyer (1996) showed that it
Weihman & Liburd: Control of Grape Root Borer
is possible to cause mating disruption with attrac-
tants other than the complete blend.
Attract-and-Kill with Last Call-GRB
The Last CallTM GRB used in the 2003 and
2004 field trials contained 0.16% GRB pheromone,
6.0% pyrethrins (CAS 8003-34-7), and 93.984% in-
ert ingredients. We applied 2,250 drops per ha
(900 drops for 0.4 ha). Each drop contained 50 l1
Last Call-GRB matrix. To achieve a uniform dis-
tribution of drops throughout the vineyard, the
900 drops were divided by the number of vines per
0.4 ha plot, approximating 2-4 drops per vine. Last
CallTM GRB drops were applied to the trunks of
vines ~0.5 to 1.5 meters from the ground through
a calibrated hand-pump, manufactured by IPM
Tech specifically for attract-and-kill gels. The
pump fits in the palm of the hand and can be oper-
ated with one hand. Attract-and-kill was reap-
plied every 6 weeks for the duration of the season,
according to the protocol determined by IPM Tech.
Chemical Control with Lorsban
Lorsban 4E (chlorpyrifos) (Dow Chemical
U.S.A., Midland, MI) (44.9% a.i.) was applied once
per season at the labeled rate of 1.06 L to 378 L of
water to treat 200 vines. It was applied closest to
the period of greatest GRB emergence, based on
earlier findings (Webb et al. 1992).
Trap catches were counted weekly and recorded
from the beginning of the season until the end of
the GRB flight. Total mean number of GRB cap-
tures was analyzed by repeated measures Analysis
of Variance (ANOVA), and differences among
means were determined by Tukey's multiple com-
parison test (P < 0.05) (SAS Institute 2004).
During 2003, the number of male moths cap-
tured in traps in the areas treated with leopard
moth pheromone twist-ties was significantly
fewer than the male moths captured in the un-
treated control and the Lorsban treatments (F =
9.81; df = 3, 264; P < 0.0001) (Table 1). The num-
ber of male moths captured in traps in the twist-
tie sections was not significantly different from
those captured in traps in the areas treated with
A&K. Traps deployed in the A&K plots caught sig-
nificantly fewer male moths than traps deployed
in the Lorsban sections. There were no significant
differences in trap catches between the Lorsban
and the untreated control sections (Table 1).
During 2004, significantly fewer GRB were
captured in areas treated with leopard moth
pheromone twist-ties compared with the A&K
and untreated control sections (Table 1) (F =
11.42; df = 3,234; P < 0.0001). There were no dif-
ferences between the twist-tie and Lorsban treat-
ments or between the attract-and-kill and the un-
treated control sections (Table 1).
Figure 1 shows the mean number of GRB
males caught per week per treatment for 2003
and 2004. The GRB captures in the untreated con-
trol sections were similar during each year. For
the A&K treatments, larger numbers of GRB were
captured later in the season than earlier for 2003
(Fig. 1A). Also, a relatively high number of GRB
were caught in the traps in the Lorsban section in
2003. During 2004, the periods of low captures co-
incided with periods of extreme weather such as
hurricane activity (early September). Also, trap
catches in the A&K treatments were more erratic
with periods of high and low captures occurring
throughout the season (Fig. 1B). Grape root borer
trap catches in the Lorsban treatment of 2004 was
much lower than the previous year, especially
later in the season during the 4-week period when
Lorsban was active (Fig. 1B).
Wing traps were used to measure male moth
activity throughout the vineyards and conse-
quently, mating disruption success by trap shut-
down. If GRB males were not able to locate the
trap pheromone source, it is assumed that it
TABLE 1. WEEKLY MEAN SEM NUMBER OF GRAPE ROOT BORERS PER TRAP FOR MATING DISRUPTION, ATTRACT-AND-
KILL, LORSBAN, AND UNTREATED CONTROL TREATMENTS IN FOUR FLORIDA VINEYARDS FOR 2003 AND 2004.
Weekly mean trap capture SEM
Treatment 2003 2004
Mating disruption 0.00 0 c 0.00 0 b
Attract-and-kill 1.07 0.44 bc 3.50 0.76 a
Lorsban 3.07 0.73 a 0.84 0.32 b
Untreated control 2.49 0.62 ba 3.00 0.75 a
Means in columns followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P = 0.05, Tukey's test)
Florida Entomologist 89(2)
S-- -A Attract-and-kill
7 -X-- Lorsban
Fig. 1 A&B. Mean number of grape root borer males caught in monitoring traps per week for four treatments:
untreated control, pheromone twist-ties, attract-and-kill gels, and Lorsban 4E for 2003 and 2004.
would be unlikely for them to find a calling fe-
male. In an experiment by Webb (1990), males
were unable to locate caged calling females in
traps in a vineyard saturated with synthetic
pheromone. In our study, complete trap shutdown
was achieved in all of the pheromone twist-tie
treatments for both years, indicating that males
were unable to orient to the female pheromone
source. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that
disruption of mating occurred.
It is possible that some mating may still occur
despite complete trap shutdown. In addition,
gravid females have been observed immigrating
into pheromone-saturated vineyards and laying
eggs (Johnson et al. 1986), This behavior is unex-
plained since Pearson & Schal (1999) demon-
strated a weak attraction to the GRB pheromone
by mated females. It is not known how often or to
what extent gravid females enter pheromone-sat-
urated vineyards, but it can have serious conse-
quences on a mating disruption program.
Trap shutdown alone does not prove that mat-
ing disruption has occurred. Previous studies
have confirmed mating disruption success in
pheromone-saturated vineyards by other meth-
ods in addition to trap shutdown including deter-
Weihman & Liburd: Control of Grape Root Borer
mining if males could locate caged calling fe-
males, counting pupal skins, and production of
fertile or infertile eggs by females caught within
the vineyards. Webb (1990) showed a significant
degree of mating disruption by trap shutdown as
well as the reduction of pupal skin counts indicat-
ing a correlation between the two. Johnson et al.
(1991) and Yonce (1981) also showed a correlation
between reductions of pupal skin counts and trap
shutdown. Attempts were made to recover pupal
skins but a shortage of labor and inclement
weather coupled with low recovery of pupal skins
forced us to cancel this activity.
We used twist-ties with the pheromone of the
leopard moth Zeuzera pyrina L. (Lepidoptera:
Cossidae) 95% (E,Z)-2,13-ODDA: 5% (E,Z)-3,13-
ODDA. It shares the major component with the
GRB, although in a smaller percentage (95%
rather than 99%), and has a different minor com-
ponent. Due to the fact that it was possible to
cause mating disruption with off-blends (Hodges
et al. 1984; Minks and Carde 1988), and the fact
that the leopard moth pheromone was commer-
cially available and significantly cheaper, it was
chosen as our disruption tool.
Trap catches in the A&K treatment plots dur-
ing 2003 were not significantly different from the
twist-tie sections, indicating low activity by male
moths in the area treated with A&K. It is unclear
whether the success of the A&K was due to insec-
ticide poisoning of the males because of contact
with A&K or mating disruption. The A&K treat-
ment did not work as well in 2004 when traps
showed no difference from the untreated control.
Traps in the A&K treatments caught 48% of the
total GRB captured in 2004, compared with only
13% in 2003. Initially, the reason for this was un-
clear. Further investigation revealed that the pro-
ducers of A&K failed to include the correct phero-
mone blend in the 2004 batch. Analysis of the gel
revealed the ratio to be 95:5 (E,Z)-2,13-ODDA:
4.5%(Z,Z)-3,13-ODDA instead of 99:1. Previous
studies demonstrated that a 95:5 ratio was mostly
unattractive to male GRB (Snow et al. 1987).
We observed that the A&K drops often deteri-
orated quite rapidly under Florida weather condi-
tions. During the summer growing season, Flor-
ida vineyards usually experience powerful storms
with pelting rain, intense heat, and solar radia-
tion. These conditions may affect the stability and
longevity of the A&K. The protocol for A&K indi-
cates that it must be reapplied every 6 weeks.
However, we noticed that many drops were al-
most dry after 3 weeks and totally missing during
the 4th through 6th week. Only in a few instances
did we observe drops that lasted the entire 6-
week period. Attract-and-kill warrants further
investigation to determine the frequency of appli-
cation under Florida conditions and its overall
The Lorsban treatment was included in the
study as a standard chemical treatment for GRB
control. Lorsban primarily controls first instars
as they emerge from eggs and burrow to the roots.
It can also reduce the number of adults as they
emerge from their cocoons. In 2003, there were no
significant differences in the number of male
moths caught in traps between the untreated
(control) and the Lorsban-treated sections. How-
ever, during 2004, traps in the vineyards treated
with Lorsban caught significantly fewer GRB
than the untreated controls. The reason for the
differences between 2003 and 2004 is not clear.
At our current application rates, LastCall-GRB
costs $250 per hectare and it requires roughly 2.5
h/ha to apply and 3-4 applications per season (un-
der Florida conditions). This could be labor-inten-
sive, depending on the size of the vineyard. Fu-
ture studies should evaluate how many drops per
hectare would provide effective control. For in-
stance, instead of 900 drops per 0.4 ha, perhaps
the drops (1 drop = 0.05 g) could be consolidated
into larger amounts and applied on fewer vines.
Our pheromone twist-tie application rate of
635 units per ha is fairly high. Practically, 635
twist-ties per ha may be expensive for farmers
($287/ha compared with $32-$65/ha for Lorsban).
It takes an average worker 3 h/ha to deploy the
twist-ties. However, the pheromone lasts the en-
tire season under normal conditions.
Future studies should focus on different de-
ployment tactics as well as rates of application
(number of twist-ties per ha). It may be important
to compare the leopard moth pheromone to the
true GRB blend in further mating disruption
studies. This was beyond the scope of this study,
but future studies should also incorporate the
counting of pupal skins as a means to determine
GRB reductions from the treatments.
Mating disruption with the use of the leopard
moth (Zeuzera pyrina) pheromone may be an ef-
fective, reduced-risk strategy for controlling GRB,
and a good alternative to conventional chemical
control. Attract-and-kill technology may also be a
potentially effective strategy for GRB control, but
more research is needed.
We thank the grape growers who participated in this
research and contributed their farms and time, espe-
cially Roger and Marcia Price (Harmony Vineyard), Bob,
RuthAnn, and Kellie Thropp (Log Cabin Vineyard), Jim
and Lois Hangar (Orange Blossom Vineyard), and Rob-
ert and Bonniejean Paulish (Blue Heron Vineyard). We
also thank the Florida Grape Grower's Association for
funding this research for three consecutive years. We ap-
Florida Entomologist 89(2)
preciate the assistance of the staff from the Small Fruit
and Vegetable IPM Lab at the Department of Entomol-
ogy and Nematology at the University of Florida, espe-
cially Gisette Seferina and Alejandro Arevalo. We thank
Dr. Robert McSorley and Dr. Susan Webb for reviewing
earlier drafts of this manuscript. We acknowledge Dr.
John R. McLaughlin and the staff of IPM Tech, Inc. for
supply of LastCallTM GRB. We are especially indebted to
Jack W. Jenkins with Pacific Biocontrol Corp. for his as-
sistance in acquiring the leopard moth twist-ties. We
thank Dr. Peter Teal with the USDA in Gainesville Flor-
ida for his assistance in analyzing pheromone samples.
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