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28 June 2021 Drones That Deliver: Pheromone-Based Mating Disruption Deployed via Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles in U.S. Cranberries
Brian D. Luck, Elissa M. Chasen, Parker J. Williams, Shawn A. Steffan
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Cranberry fruitworm (Acrobasis vaccinii Riley (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae)) and blackheaded fireworm (Rhopobota naevana Hubner (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae)) threaten cranberry production annually by causing significant fruit damage. Up to four pesticide applications are made each year to control these insects, which are costly to producers and elevate pesticide residues in fruit. Pheromone-based mating disruption technology can provide control of these pests in cranberry production, with the potential to minimize, or eliminate, pesticide applications. In 2016, an uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) was investigated to apply a thick paraffin emulsion containing insect sex pheromones. Traditional agricultural equipment is not capable of applying the paraffin emulsion to cranberry beds due to the product's viscous, paste-like consistency. The first objective of this study was to retrofit an UAV (octocopter) with a novel extrusion device that had been engineered to deliver the pheromone-loaded paraffin at regular intervals during flight. The second objective was to confirm adequate distribution of the pheromones by measuring the mating disruption efficacy by monitoring male moth trap catches. The UAV was able to fly autonomously along a prescribed itinerary, deploying the paraffin product uniformly; however, the increased mass of the retrofitted UAV limited flight times to ∼12 min. The number of male cranberry fruitworm and blackheaded fireworm moths caught in lure-baited traps were reduced in the paraffin-treated beds compared with untreated beds, indicating adequate distribution of the pheromones. The UAV-applied pheromones concept could be developed into a production scale application method in the future, although issues of battery life and lifting capacity will need to be resolved.

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Brian D. Luck, Elissa M. Chasen, Parker J. Williams, and Shawn A. Steffan "Drones That Deliver: Pheromone-Based Mating Disruption Deployed via Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles in U.S. Cranberries," Journal of Economic Entomology 114(5), 1910-1916, (28 June 2021).
Received: 5 October 2020; Accepted: 8 March 2021; Published: 28 June 2021

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Acrobasis vaccinia
mating disruption
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