Open-field vibrational mating disruption: the effect on leafhopper pests and their predators
Abstract: Over the last few years, a novel mating disruption approach based on vibrational signals has proved to be effective to control pests relying on vibrational communication to mate, such as leafhoppers. The American grapevine leafhopper, Scaphoideus titanus (Ball), was the first model species on which the method was developed and the efficacy of the ‘disturbance noise’ was demonstrated both in the laboratory and field conditions. Here, for the first time we applied the vibrational mating disruption method to a commercial vineyard. In spring 2017, 110 mini shakers were set up in a vineyard in Northern Italy to transmit the ‘disturbance noise’ to plants. The efficiency of the mini shakers and the effect of the vibrations on S. titanus and non-target arthropods (i. e. spiders) were monitored throughout the summer period. A laser Doppler vibrometer was used to assess the mini shakers emission every three weeks from the activation day. Leafhoppers were surveyed counting the number of individuals on leaves and with yellow sticky traps; non-target species were surveyed by beating technique. To assess the effect on leafhoppers population, at least two consecutive seasons of observation are needed. Here, we present preliminary results on the effect of vibrational mating disruption on S. titanus and spider populations. This is the first application of such a method on a large scale and in the future it will allow for the assessing of the efficacy and potential side effects of the vibrational mating disruption method.