“Attract-and-Kill” Technology to Safeguard Potato Crops

The humble potato might not seem like a battlefield, but for scientists at the International Potato Center (CIP), it is ground zero in a war against pests. One of their most formidable adversaries is the Guatemalan potato moth, Tecia solanivora. This tiny but destructive insect has been a menace to potato farmers in Tenerife since it arrived in 1999, particularly impacting the island’s northern regions and sporadically affecting the south. However, researchers are fighting back with innovative technologies to protect this vital crop. 

The Challenge of Tecia solanivora 

Tecia solanivora is more than just a nuisance. It severely threatens potato cultivation, causing significant economic losses and affecting farmers’ livelihoods. Recognizing the urgency of this issue, the CIP and the Cabildo Insular de Tenerife (ECIT) have joined forces through a technical collaboration agreement. They aim to develop and implement advanced pest control methods to safeguard Tenerife’s potato crops and support the local economy. 

“Attract-and-Kill” Technology: A Game Changer 

One of the most promising innovations in the fight against the Guatemalan potato moth is the “Attract-and-Kill” technology. This method utilizes pure pheromones to lure the moths into contact with a potent insecticide approved under Tenerife’s phytosanitary legislation. The concept is deceptively simple but highly effective: by attracting the moths directly to the insecticide, the technology ensures that the pests do not stand a chance. 

“The suitability of an attract-and-kill strategy for T. solanivora, consisting of pure pheromones and a contact insecticide allowed under the phytosanitary legislation applicable on the island of Tenerife, will be tested.”

Harnessing Technology for Better Pest Management 

But CIP scientists’ efforts do not stop at killing pests. They also focus on understanding and predicting pest behavior to stay one step ahead. This is where the ILCYM Predictor comes into play. Developed by CIP, the ILCYM Predictor is a sophisticated tool that uses phenology models and temperature data within a GIS environment to forecast pest population dynamics and assess risk. 

By leveraging climate data from AgroCabildo’s extensive network of meteorological stations across Tenerife, the ILCYM Predictor can simulate insect population dynamics, evaluate pest risks, and plan climate change adaptations. This allows farmers and extension workers to make informed decisions about pest management and crop protection throughout the year. 

A Comprehensive Approach 

The combined power of “Attract-and-Kill” technology and the ILCYM Predictor represents a comprehensive approach to pest management. The former directly targets and eliminates the moths, while the latter provides crucial insights into pest behavior and environmental conditions. Together, these tools offer a robust defense against the Guatemalan potato moth, ensuring that potato crops can thrive despite the challenges posed by this persistent pest. 

“For time-varying and local-scale simulations, the public database of AgroCabildo will be used, which is a dataset of climate data from meteorological stations distributed throughout Tenerife.” 

The dedication of CIP scientists to protecting potato crops from pests like Tecia solanivora is a testament to their commitment to agricultural innovation and food security. Developing and deploying advanced technologies such as “Attract-and-Kill” systems and the ILCYM Predictor are safeguarding a staple food source and supporting sustainable agriculture and economic stability in regions like Tenerife. 

ILCYM Predictor connected to ILCYM 4.0 generates useful and fast pest risk and management results, with easy access from any device with a web browser. 

The capabilities of ILCYM predictor are: 

  1. Simulation of insect population dynamics more friendly
  2. Pest risk assessment and interaction with naturals enemies
  3. Climate change adaptation planning based on availability of temperature data

“The ILCYM predictor is a recently designed product that has been launched and is currently undergoing testing on the ILCYM website.” 

In the battle against the Guatemalan potato moth, these researchers’ ingenuity and determination are proving invaluable. Their work ensures that the humble potato remains a reliable and resilient food source for communities worldwide.