Many insect pests use pheromones to communicate and find mates. This strategy can be exploited by pest managers and used to control some insect pests. This approach to pest control is known as mating disruption.
Mating disruption uses pheromone dispensers to saturate an area with pheromones, and the pests are unable to locate a mate’s pheromone trail amongst all the synthetic pheromones.
Mating disruption is used extensively to control codling moths in Washington State. SIR experimented with using mating disruption to control the codling moth from 2011 to 2014 in the central and north Okanagan. Mating disruption proved less effective at controlling the codling moth than the sterile insect technique in the study area. This was due to the fragmented distribution of apple orchards in the Okanagan, uneven terrain and the smaller orchard sizes in British Columbia compared to those in Washington, all factors that work against effective mating disruption programs. Consequently, the SIR program no longer uses mating disruption to control the codling moth on any significant scale.