Mating Disruption

by David Mueller, BCE

After four decades of using pheromone baited traps for monitoring insects, new techniques for using pheromones to control stored product pest populations are being discovered and developed. The ability to reduce customer complaints has been impacted by these sensitive control tools.

• Mating disruption (MD) is part of a pest management program and should not be considered a single source treatment. Inspections by a knowledgeable pest manager are important during a MD treatment to determine if inbound ingredients are infested. Mating disruption can, however, reduce the need for insecticide fogging. A three year case study of a nut processor in the U.S. showed that the MD treatment reduced the number of foggings from five to one per year with only MD.

• Mating disruption shows promise in organic food storage where Indianmeal moth and Mediterranean flour moth are the target pests. The MD treatment was effective at reducing overall costs but did not control issues with inbound infested materials.

• The advanced training it takes to establish, record, and evaluate a MD program requires more than other types of pest control programs. Insect biology, reproductive anatomy, and insect habits are important to know and understand.

• Pest management providers will need to consider the time it takes to inspect warehouses for new arrivals.

• If there are adult moths flying around the warehouse during the MD treatment, many were females searching for male moths. The pest manager needs to spend time capturing these free flying females. Pest managers should carefully examine moth abdomens and the females’ bursa sacks for spermatophores(s) under a microscope to determine if the females are fertile.

• If eggs are still laid on finished food ready to be shipped to the customer, customer  complaints could still occur.

It is important to understand that mating disruption is a new addition to the pest management program and not the program itself.

This is an excerpt from the book Reducing Customer Complaints in Stored Products by David K. Mueller. For purchase at


Mating disruption can be compared to simply clipping off the antennae of a insect. This stops all communication.


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