Experiments were conducted to test a mating disruption program for the mealybug Planococcus ficus (Signoret) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) in California vineyards. The sprayable, microencapsulated formulation of the racemic sex pheromone lavandulyl senecioate was applied with an air-blast sprayer, using three and four applications in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Mating disruption was combined with an application of buprofezin (2004) in June. Compared with a no-pheromone control, there were significantly lower season-long trap catches of adult males, season-long mealybug densities (2003 only), and crop damage in mating disruption plots. The amount of mealybug reduction and mechanisms that resulted in lower crop damage in mating disruption plots is discussed. In samples taken during the growing season (April to September), mealybug density was only 12.0 ± 15.6 and 31.1 ± 11.6% lower in the mating disruption plots than in control plots in 2003 and 2004, respectively. In the mating disruption treatment, mealybug egg production was significantly lower (2003 only), as were the proportion of ovisacs and crawlers produced. There was no treatment impact on percentage of parasitism. Mealybug density influenced treatment impact. In 2004, vines were categorized as having low, medium, or high mealybug densities during a preapplication survey. After treatment application, mealybug density was reduced by 86.3 ± 6.3% on vines in the low mealybug density category, but it was unchanged on vines in the high density category. Another factor that reduced treatment impact was the relatively short effective lifetime of the sprayable formulation.
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