Trapping weevils and saving monarchs

Oct 01, 2012 by Dennis O'brien
Trapping weevils and saving monarchs
ARS studies intended to improve detection of boll weevils could help save the monarch butterfly.

Ensuring the monarch butterfly's survival by saving its milkweed habitat could result from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) studies initially intended to improve detection of boll weevils with pheromone traps.

Charles Suh and his colleagues at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Areawide Pest Management Research Unit in College Station, Texas, have found a pheromone formula that is attractive to a major milkweed pest, the milkweed stem weevil.

The discovery stems from research originally designed to help improve pheromone lures used in Texas to monitor the boll weevil, a major pest of cotton. The lures haven't always been effective, so the researchers worked with the pheromone manufacturer to improve the pheromone lure used in the traps.

The researchers set up traps along roads in Texas to compare the standard and experimental lures for attracting boll weevils. They checked the traps once a week from mid-May to mid-June, replacing the lures every other week.

They soon found that the experimental lures were attracting a type of weevil distinctly different from boll weevils. The weevils were identified as milkweed stem weevils, Rhyssomatus lineaticollis. The researchers initially discounted the number of milkweed stem weevils found in the traps, but it soon became obvious that more milkweed stem weevils were being captured than boll weevils. Overall, four times more milkweed weevils were captured in traps with the experimental lures than with standard lures.

are often admired for their eye-catching wings and transcontinental migrations. Conservationists concerned about the potential loss of milkweed habitat have recommended planting milkweed in yards and gardens. Adult monarch butterflies feed on the nectar of various when they migrate from the Midwestern United States to the mountains of central Mexico. But their larvae feed on milkweed, making the plant a necessity for the butterfly's lifecycle.

The discovery, reported in Southwestern Entomologist, could be used to develop a trap-based system for detecting milkweed populations, monitoring their movements, and helping conserve rare types of .

Explore further: Declining catch rates in Caribbean green turtle fishery may be result of overfishing

More information: www.bioone.org/loi/swen

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

No Mistaking this Bug with New Insect ID Technique

Sep 10, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Misidentifying boll weevils caught in pheromone traps could be easier to avoid, thanks to a new DNA fingerprinting method devised by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their ...

Biocontrol of sweetpotato weevils

Aug 04, 2011

The warm humid conditions of the tropics make it tough for farmers to keep their crops pest free. For sweetpotato growers in Micronesia, the sweetpotato weevil seems to defy efforts to control its population. ...

Catching vine weevils with odors

Apr 20, 2012

Catching the vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus) is now possible with the identification of odours these weevils find attractive. Scientists of Plant Research International, part of Wageningen UR, discovered ...

Papuan weevil has screw-in legs

Jul 01, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- New research has found that humans were not the first species to invent the nut and bolt mechanism for screwing one thing to another: weevils do the same to attach their legs to their bodies ...

Recommended for you

India's ancient mammals survived multiple pressures

13 hours ago

Most of the mammals that lived in India 200,000 years ago still roam the subcontinent today, in spite of two ice ages, a volcanic super-eruption and the arrival of people, a study reveals.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...