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US researchers tackle Argentina ants with insecticide/pheromone

US researchers have developed a pheromone-assisted technique for improving the control of Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) by insecticides. Scientists at the University of California, Riverside supplemented insecticide sprays with the synthetic pheromone, (Z)-9-hexadecenal, to lure the ants from their trails and nest entrances to be killed by insecticide residues. Experiments with fipronil and bifenthrin showed that use of the pheromone could increase their effectiveness by between 57% and 142%. The aim is to reduce the amount of insecticide used so as to minimise adverse effects on the environment, non-target organisms and human health, says project leader and assistant professor of entomology Dong-Hwan Choe. Questions over the long-term stability of the pheromone in an insecticide formulation could be addressed with the assistance of industry collaborators, he notes. The research was published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

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