- Inspired by escape behavior from ultrasound emitted by bat -
National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) in collaboration with MEMS CORE Co., Ltd. and Kyoto Prefectural Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Technology Center has established a pest control method using ultrasound that repels moth pests. Many moths, including noctuid moths, escape the ultrasound generated by predatory bats to avoid being eaten by them. This research result is based on this behavioral maneuver. Therefore, it is possible to prevent noctuid moths from flying into crop fields for laying eggs by irradiating a wide area around the field with ultrasound. This can greatly reduce the number of insecticide applications for noctuid larvae that damage crops.
The larvae of noctuid moths feed on many crop species and significantly reduce their commercial value. Adult noctuid moths fly around at night, but they have "ears" at the base of their hindwings which can sense sounds. When moths in flight detect the ultrasound emitted by their natural enemies, i.e., bats searching for food, they show escape behavior to avoid being eaten.
National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) in collaboration with MEMS CORE Co., Ltd. and Kyoto Prefectural Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Technology Center clarified the acoustic parameters of ultrasonic pulse, which commonly repels eared noctuid moths (Spodoptera litura, Spodoptera exigua, and Spodoptera frugiperda) and are difficult to get auditory habituation to, from the behavioral tests and auditory nerve response patterns. Furthermore, we have developed a device that can irradiate this ultrasound pulse horizontally 360 degrees with a loud sound. By this we have succeeded in reducing the number of noctuid moths flying/entering and laying eggs in greenhouses cultivating strawberry and open fields cultivating green onions. Therefore, feeding damage by larvae can be reduced, making it possible to decrease the number of insecticide applications.
Agricultural damage caused by noctuid moths can be suppressed without relying solely on insecticides by introducing the ultrasonic transmitter provided by MEMS CORE Co., Ltd. It is a global issue that moth pests develop resistance to insecticides when insecticides with the same active ingredient are used repeatedly. This issue can be avoided by using this technology. In addition, since it is a behavioral control technology that utilizes interactions with predators in the natural world, the adverse effects of ultrasound emitted by the transmitter on surrounding animals and plants are drastically lower than insecticides do.
Ryo Nakano, Akio Ito, Susumu Tokumaru (2022) Sustainable pest control inspired by prey-predator ultrasound interactions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 119(43) e2211007119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2211007119