The first pheromone trap will be used against lamprey females to catch them before mating.
This is the first vertebrate pheromone biopesticide registered by the Environmental Protection Agency of the U.S. after many years of research.
Scientists developed the synthetic pheromone 2kPZS to resemble the one released by horny males looking for a mate. The scent will be used in traps to fool horny females that they will be getting some action. Instead of that the poor creatures are going to be trapped and killed.
The Great Lake Fishery Commission announced that they will use the pheromone to control the lamprey population in the lakes.
Weiming Li from the Michigan State University said that in field trial the pheromone baits demonstrated to be 53 percent more efficient in capturing the sea lampreys than simple traps without the scent.
The research of lamprey pheromones started in the beginning of the 1990s and at the beginning it involved living male lampreys that could have been used to attract females. But in time the Michigan’s Bridge Organics Co. researchers have been able to develop a synthetic version.
The only organism licensed to apply the pheromone in field is the Fish and Wildlife Service which will use the synthetic pheromone mixed with solvents. The registration covered both the mixture and the synthetic pheromone by itself.
The pheromone’s registration has been the first joint review of a biopesticide with Canada through the Free Trade Agreement of North America. Registration in Canada is still in process.
The lampreys are one of the Great Lakes’ worst disasters. The parasites have decimated the indigenous fish populations from the 1930s to the 1940s. They suck the fish’s blood by attaching to their skin and scales with their mouth which works as a suction cup and file a hole through which they suck the blood with their tongue sharp as a blade. Adult lampreys feed for almost two years being able to kill about 40 pounds of fish.
Since 1954 the fishery commission have been put in charge of the lamprey’s control by both the United States and Canada. The commission has been working with government agencies for studies and research.
The control methods have been going quite well being able to drop the rates of fish killed by lampreys from about 103 million pounds to less than 10 million pounds a year.
However until now the commission has used a chemical pesticide which despite having good results, were also killing some of the fish.
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