The long-range, pheromone-mediated, flight behaviour of male moths under natural and mating disruption conditions was monitored by means of harmonic radar. Individual male turnip moths, Agrotis segetum (Denis & Schiffermüller) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), tagged with radar transponders, were released and tracked in plots with or without disruptive doses of sex pheromone. In addition, male attraction to pheromone-baited traps and mating of calling females in treated and untreated plots was investigated. High doses of a four-component pheromone blend reduced trap catch by 79% and mating of females by 62% when compared with control plots in pre-radar experiments. Surprisingly, this effect was not associated with any pronounced differences in flight behaviour of males between a treatment and a control plot as revealed by harmonic radar recordings. In total, 20 flight tracks from a control plot and 22 flight tracks from a treatment plot were analysed. Moths could be followed for up to 77 min, corresponding to a track length of 7350 m. Mean ground speed ranged from 0.7 m s-1 to 5.4 m s-1. There was a strong trend (P = 0.06) for a greater number of male orientations to traps from downwind in the control field compared to the treatment field. Many flight tracks were fragmented due to radar shadow. Advantages and constraints using harmonic radar to study the pheromone-mediated flight behaviour of nocturnal moths are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science