Skip to content

The Science of Microencapsulated Pheromone Technology

Suterra Apr 17, 2023 10:37:55 AM

Suterra is a global leader in pheromone mating disruption. We manufacture our own active ingredients and the various pheromone delivery systems we offer – aerosols (Puffer®), vapor dispensers, and sprayable formulations.

History of Sprayable Mating Disruption 


Sprayable pheromones have existed for quite some time. The first sprayable pheromone product was registered in 1989 for pink bollworm. Suterra registered its first sprayable formulation for tomato pinworm in 1996 and currently offers a dozen different sprayable pheromone products for use around the globe.

Suterra’s commitment to continual innovation in this space has resulted in highly effective sprayable pheromone products used successfully by growers in numerous cropping systems.


What Differentiates Sprayable? 

Suterra’s CheckMate® and Subvert® sprayable product lines are microencapsulated pheromone formulations that prevent mating in various pests. These formulations are comprised of two primary components: the species-specific sex pheromone used to disrupt mating (the active ingredient or AI) and the matrix that protects it. The “matrix” is a mixture of inert ingredients chemically engineered to protect the pheromone from environmental factors while ensuring consistent release over time.  


Each microcapsule can be thought of as a microscopic dispenser, and each application of CheckMate® is akin to applying billions of dispensers to the orchard, vineyard, or field. Suterra’s CheckMate® sprayable products are designed to function in all climates, disrupting mating for up to 30 days after application.


The proven reliability of these products can be attributed to our in-house team of chemists and polymer scientists in our Formulation Department, who impart quality control into every batch to ensure a consistent, sustained release profile and the results growers expect.


Incorporating Sprayable into an Integrated Pest Management Program

Suterra has sprayable products for a range of different pests and crop systems. Suterra’s CheckMate® and Subvert® brands offer sprayable products available for navel orangeworm (CheckMate® NOW-F), vine mealybug (CheckMate® VMB-F in the U.S. and Subvert® in Europe), diamondback moth (CheckMate® DBM-F), codling moth (CheckMate® CM), and Oriental fruit moth (CheckMate® OFM-F), among others.

Incorporating sprayable mating disruption as the baseline of an integrated pest management (IPM) program offers an array of benefits.

There is great flexibility in use patterns – growers can do multiple applications throughout the season, at optimized times, in areas with significant pest pressure. CheckMate® sprayables can be applied via ground or air and can be tank mixed with most common agrochemicals, so no additional labor is needed.

Applications of CheckMate® must be evenly distributed throughout the orchard, vineyard, or field. However, as opposed to many conventional pesticides that require thorough coverage, our microcaps’ unique mode of action does not require contact with the pest or ingestion by the pest. When applied on its own, this characteristic is what allows CheckMate® applications to be done at lower volumes and faster speeds.

It is important to note that in capsule suspension formulas, microcapsules separate from liquid over time in storage. Often a “cake layer” will form at the top of the bottle, but this is completely normal and signals quality formulation. CheckMate® bottles should be shaken vigorously to re-combine before application. If tank mixed, be sure to add CheckMate® last and apply the mixture immediately to prevent separation.


Conventional Insecticide vs. Sprayable

Applied like an insecticide but with a mating disruption mode of action, CheckMate® is unparalleled in the sprayable toolkit for pest management. CheckMate®’s utility comes through in its long-lasting residual activity of up to 30 days, its zero to four hours re-entry interval (REI), zero pre-harvest interval (PHI), and exemption from maximum residue limits (MRL).

Sprayable pheromones seamlessly integrate with and complement various elements within the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, including biocontrol and insecticides. Their inclusion enhances an already robust program, promoting improved yield and quality, resistance mitigation, and the protection of biodiversity, including vital species like pollinators and natural predators. Notably, the microcapsule walls in all sprayable products are crafted from naturally occurring substances, ensuring biodegradability. The adoption of sprayable formulations, such as capsule suspension formulations, plays a pivotal role in reducing pollution and environmental contamination associated with conventional dispensers that employ polymers and microplastics.

Continued use may allow for the reduction of other pest management inputs, such as insecticides. Always consult your pest or crop adviser when making decisions about your IPM-specific program.


For more information about our sprayable pheromone products, please send us a message, or contact the Suterra key account manager for your region. Our experts are happy to help!