Communication between adult male and female Spodoptera littoralis (Boisd.) was disrupted by spraying microencapsulated formulations of pheromone inhibitor (IIA) (Z)-9-tetradecen-1-yl-acetate on lucerne plots in north-west Crete. Polyurea-based microcapsules applied at the rate of 100 g/ha active ingredient caused a 97% disruption for a period of seven days, as measured by the reduction of catches in the treated area in traps baited with the pheromone attractant (III) (Z)-9, (E)-11-tetradecadien-1-yl acetate, compared with catches in control areas. At lower rates of application both the level of disruption after seven days and the subsequent persistence of the effect were reduced. When applied at a rate of 100 g/ha active ingredient, disruption of 80% and above was achieved for a period of three weeks. Slower release microcapsules containing IIA based on polyurea/polyamide appeared more effective in that a level of disruption was achieved at one-tenth the amount of active ingredient required for the polyurea-based formulations.
III dispensed in polythene vials caused 97% disruption when distributed at the rate of one vial per 9 m2, with lower levels of disruption at distributions of one vial per 25 m2 or 50 m2. IIA was much less effective in causing communication disruption at the same rates of distribution and no clear dose/response relationship was established.
Inside enclosures of 10 100 and 1 000 m2 fenced by single-strand polythene impregnated with IIA at the rate of 1 mg/5 cm and maintained at a height of 0·5 m, a high level of disruption in excess of 93% was achieved for the first five days. The effect persisted in the smaller enclosures in that disruption in excess of 80% was maintained for a period of 40 days. In the 1 000 m2 enclosure the effect declined much more quickly.
When IIA and III were dispensed together in WT traps the inhibitory effect persisted for at least 60 days. Similarly the polyurea-based microcapsules containing IIA together with III in WT traps maintained an inhibitory action for periods of 30–40 days. Polyurea/polyamide formulations of IIA were generally less effective, probably because loss from these slow releasing formulations became too low. Small numbers of mostly unmated female moths were attracted to the traps when IIA was exposed together with III, either when dispensed in the polythene vials or in microencapsulated formulations.