Verbenone (4,6,6-trimethylbicyclo[3.1.1]hept-3-en-2-one) is an antiaggregant of the mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a notable forest insect capable of causing extensive levels of tree mortality in western North America. Several formulations of verbenone are registered for tree protection, but failures in efficacy are not uncommon, particularly when applied during large infestations. A formulation of (—)-verbenone was developed (Specialized Pheromone & Lure Application Technology [SPLAT] Verb, ISCA Technologies Inc., Riverside, CA) and evaluated for protecting individual lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta Douglas ex Loudon, and small stands of P. contorta from mortality attributed to D. ponderosae. SPLAT Verb applied to individual P. contorta resulted in complete tree protection, while 93.3% mortality occurred in the untreated controls. Significantly fewer P. contorta were killed by D. ponderosae within 0.041-ha circular plots surrounding P. contorta treated with SPLAT Verb compared with the untreated control. In a second study, a smaller percentage of P. contorta were colonized and killed on 0.4-ha square plots treated with SPLAT Verb compared with the untreated control. No significant differences in levels of tree mortality were observed between the untreated control and another formulation of verbenone (7-g pouch) or between the 7-g pouch and SPLAT Verb. In a trapping bioassay, no significant differences were observed among captures in multiple-funnel traps at 1, 2, or 4m from the point of release of SPLAT Verb. Significantly fewer D. ponderosae were collected at 1 and 2m compared with 8m. Significantly more D. ponderosae were captured at the farthest distance evaluated (16m) than at any other distance. Our data indicate that SPLAT Verb is effective for protecting individual P. contorta and small stands of P. contorta from mortality attributed to D. ponderosae at moderate doses. The high levels of tree protection observed are attributed to the ability of applying release points (dollops) at high densities, and a larger zone of inhibition than reported for other formulations of verbenone. SPLAT Verb was registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on pines, Pinus spp., in 2013.
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