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Effects of non-host plant odour on Meligethes aeneus during immigration to oilseed rape


Correspondence: Sam Cook, Department of AgroEcology, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 2JQ, UK.



The use of semiochemicals for the manipulation of the pollen beetle, Meliethes aeneus (Fabricius) (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae), is being investigated for potential incorporation into a push-pull strategy for this pest, which damages oilseed rape, Brassica napus L. (Brassicaceae), throughout Europe. Previous laboratory behavioural studies using volatiles from non-host plants showed that M. aeneus is repelled by the odour of lavender, Lavendula angustifolia Mill. (Lamiaceae), essential oil. This article reports on semi-field and field trials to investigate this behaviour under more realistic conditions. Semi-field experiments were conducted to assess the relative importance of olfaction at different points in host location behaviour by M. aeneus. The results showed that oilseed rape plants treated with lavender odour were less colonised by M. aeneus in comparison with an untreated control, but that the treatment effect was much reduced if the lavender odour was applied after colonisation. The field experiment demonstrated that lavender odour caused a significant reduction in the number of adult M. aeneus infesting the oilseed rape plants in the treatment plots compared to the control plots. Overall, these findings are very encouraging for the future development of a push-pull pest control system.