Sexual confusion puts pests off the wine

April 26, 2002

Scientists are attacking pests that ruin grape crops by sowing sexual confusion among the insects. Researchers from Southampton University and its spin-off company Exosect are coating the insects with an electrostatic powder containing female pheromones to stop them breeding and spoiling grape crops.

Male pests cannot find females because of the scent on their own bodies, and females reject them as mates because they think they are female, too. In this way, the insects are controlled without use of pesticides.

The two-year research grant to Exosect is being funded by £200,000 from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

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