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European Australasian Thysanoptera Semiochemical Network (EATS Network)

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Towards management of thrip pests using semiochemicals

An EU- and NZ-funded research exchange programme is supporting studies into the management of thrips, a common agricultural pest, using semiochemicals.

Climate Change and Environment

Thrips are small insects that cause damage to a wide variety of crops, and they transmit viruses. Recently, semiochemicals (pheromones and other signalling chemicals) have been used to control larger insect pests, but the technology has been applied less successfully against thrips. The project 'European Australasian Thysanoptera Semiochemical Network (EATS Network)' (EATS) is an International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES) that promotes research collaboration for the semiochemical control of thrips. EATS has principally supported research exchanges between two Australasian institutions and four European institutions. These focus on understanding thrips' reactions to specific semiochemicals, identifying aggregation pheromones, and the effects of semiochemicals on thrips' predator species. Researchers have investigated environmental effects (e.g. background odours) on semiochemical signalling in the thrips species Frankliniella occidentalis. They found that the thrips response to repellants and attractants is modulated by background odours. They also identified several new aggregation pheromonesfrom specific thrips that may be useful as attractants. In particular, this work identified a semiochemical that is attractive to a common thrips predator. The EATS network has made semiochemical research for thrips management an international priority. In doing so, it supports progress towards tools for better pest control.

Keywords

Thrips, biological control, agricultural pest, crops, semiochemicals, signalling chemical, insect pest, aggregation pheromone, background odour, repellant, attractant, pest control

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