PUBLISHED ON July 7th, 2015
Each summer, filbert moth larvae hatch and burrow into filbert shells, eat the nut and use the shell as safe place to develop. This damaging act can render an entire crop inedible, as it only takes three bad nuts to fail a quality test at a processing facility. To prevent the larvae damage, Eugene farmers used to spray filbert, or hazelnut, trees with pesticides. While the chemicals helped reduce the moth population, they also affected the city’s quality of drinking water.
To protect the water source, farmers in Eugene’s McKenzie River Valley took green steps with the help of the Eugene Water & Electric Board, Oregon Hazelnut Commission and Oregon State University in 2012 to control hazelnut moth larvae. They implemented “mating disruption” techniques that use pheromones that confuse moths as part of a three-year integrated pest management (IPM) experiment. So far, the farmers reduced the use of pesticides by up to 75 percent.
To practice environmentally friendly pest management, Oregon farmers used communication pheromones to lure filbert moths into traps. The traps alerted the farmers when infestations were critical. After receiving an alert, a farmer could choose to use a pheromone distribution system or pesticides. For the distribution system, farmers used pheromones to confuse male moths, as they had a harder time pinpointing the location of female moths.
The Eugene farmers report that they prefer the green pest control method over the use of pesticides because it protects the environment, does not leave a residue on the nuts, costs less, takes less time to implement, and protects beneficial insects.
Since using mating disruption, many Eugene farmers have cut back their dependence on pesticide sprays. Some use chemicals around the perimeter of orchards, as the moths sometimes lay eggs on nearby trees. Other agricultural industries have experienced success using IPM as well, such as apple, pecan and peach growers.
IPM isn’t just for farmers. You can easily implement the techniques in your home and garden to prevent and control pest infestations. To learn more about how to get started, contact the pest management experts at Eden.