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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: September 2010

Chapter 22 - Insect endocrinology and hormone-based pest control products in IPM

Summary

IPM methods were developed largely in response to the negative consequences of the intensive use of broad-spectrum pesticides in the early to mid twentieth century (Kogan, 1998). These insecticides, belonging to the carbamate, organophosphate and organochlorine families, have unintended side effects such as environmental persistence, bioaccumulation, development of resistance among target pests, toxicity to non-target species (especially natural enemies) and human health risks. While IPM focuses mainly on preventative tactics (e.g. crop rotation) rather than remedial ones, synthetic chemical insecticides are still very much needed to achieve effective control in many agricultural systems.

The study of insect physiology has been driven, in no small part, by the need for safe alternatives to broad-spectrum insecticides. Theoretically at least, digestion, excretion, neuronal communication, metabolism and other physiological processes all comprise “insect-specific” components that are vulnerable and could be targeted by synthetic molecules. To this day, however, IPM-compatible pest control products that target the insect endocrine system far outnumber those targeting other systems. In particular, hormone mimics that control development have enjoyed not only wide appeal but also many commercial successes, and additional control products targeting hormone production and function are currently under development. In this chapter we provide an overview of (1) insect endocrinology, (2) existing control products that mimic ecdysone and juvenile hormone (JH) action and (3) possible development of disruption control strategies based on novel endocrine functions that are likely to generate new IPM tools in the future.

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