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Press Release 08-106

Where Are You Now, My Love?

Discovery related to Japanese beetles' sex pheromones has implications for agricultural pest control

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Photo of Walter Leal receiving a handful of Japanese beetles.

Walter Leal, professor of entomology and chemical ecologist at the University of California, Davis, receives a handful of Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica). Through his research into the beetles' sex pheromones, Leal and his team have isolated, identified, cloned and expressed a pheromone-degrading enzyme that could be manipulated to keep males from finding and mating with females. This discovery could lead to important applications in controlling Japanese beetles, invasive pests that have threatened U.S. agriculture since 1916.

Credit: Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis Department of Entomology


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Walter Leal, a chemical ecologist at the University of California, Davis, discusses his research into the mechanisms surrounding the sex pheromones of Japanese beetles. His discovery related to a pheromone-degrading enzyme offers the potential to control the Japanese beetle, an invasive pest, through environmentally-friendly means.

Credit: Video by: UC Davis and National Science Foundation.
Animations by: Göde Schüler, José Eduardo D'avila, and Walter Leal.
Additional Graphics: USDA and El-Sayed AM 2008, The Pherobase: Database of Insect Pheromones and Semiochemicals.
Credit for background image: William Vann, EduPic Graphical Resource.

 

Photo showing a handful of Japanese beetles.

In its larval and adult stages, the Japanese beetle is responsible for more than $450 million in damage to trees, crops and grasses annually in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Credit: Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis Department of Entomology


Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (875 KB)

Use your mouse to right-click (Mac users may need to Ctrl-click) the link above and choose the option that will save the file or target to your computer.