Could the female sex pheromone be the key to controlling coffee pest in India?

The Coffee Board of India (CBI) is making advancements in its study to control the white stem borer beetle. According to the CBI, the white stem borer beetle has become the single largest threat to the survival of Arabica coffee cultivation in India. CBI, in collaboration with Bio Control Research Laboratories (BCRL), has been working on ways to control the pest for well over a decade. Recently CBI and BCRL have identified that a combination of the female and male white stem borer beetle sex pheromones are the best way to attract the beetles. Until then, CBI had been subsidising traps to growers baited with only the male pheromone. According to the CBI, the traps help growers to monitor the borer emergence and assess its spread during flight season. They also trap a certain percentage of adult beetles, thereby bringing down further infestation. The initiative that used the male pheromone was based on a Central Coffee Research Institute and Natural Resources Institute finding in the 1990s of the large role 2-hydroxy-3-decanone (the male pheromone) played in attracting the female. The CCRI has since identified the existence of the female sex pheromone and attractants knows as kairomones within the coffee plant itself. Further field trials are currently underway to develop the most effective way to deal with the beetle.

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