Hygiene group interrupts bugs' sex lives

Wednesday, 20 December, 2006


Food industry cleaning company, Hygiene Group is using science to disrupt moth mating cycles and prevent them contaminating chocolate bars.

The company is using pheromone technology to confuse male tropical warehouse moths, whose larvae can chew through foil wrapping.

The biological solution - which uses insect pheromones in place of traditional pesticides - is part of a long-term trial in conjunction with Exosect Ltd, a research and development company which specialises in environmentally-friendly insect pest control.

An electrostatically-charged food grade wax powder soaked in female moth pheromone is used to attract male moths, which become covered in female pheromone.

Other male moths then try to mate with the female pheromone-covered males, disrupting mating and egg-laying cycles.

"It's called 'Auto-Confusion', and where we've introduced it we've seen tropical warehouse moth numbers decline," Hygiene Group pest control division manager Dave Maxwell said.

"It's not a standalone solution, but is highly effective when used alongside regular cleaning processes, and without it there would have to be more cleaning done with pesticide sprays."

Hygiene Group has been using the process for three years, passing its findings and data back to Exosect, and expects to continue the trial for another year.

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