Semiochemicals to enhance herbivory by Diorhabda carinulata aggregations in saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) infestations.
BACKGROUND: Semiochemicals for monitoring, attracting or repelling pest and beneficial organisms are increasingly deployed in agricultural and forest systems for pest management. However, the use of aggregation pheromones and host-plant attractants for the express purpose of increasing the efficacy of classical biological control agents of weeds has not been widely reported. Therefore, we conducted field-based assays to determine if a specialized wax-based matrix impregnated with an aggregation pheromone of the northern tamarisk beetle Diorhabda carinulata (Desbrochers) or host-plant volatiles could increase the efficacy of D. carinulata. RESULTS: The aggregation pheromone and host-plant volatiles were formulated for field application using a wax-based matrix. Reported release rates suggest that this matrix is a viable formulation for enhancing D. carinulata aggregations under field conditions. Pheromone-treated saltcedar plants (Tamarix spp.) not only had higher densities of adult and larval D. carinulata, but also sustained greater levels of foliar damage than control plants. Increased damage from the focused feeding of D. carinulata caused an increase in foliar dieback and decrease in live canopy volume of semiochemical-treated plants. CONCLUSION: Field deployment of these semiochemical formulations could be useful in directing populations of D. carinulata for increased impact on Tamarix spp.