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Vine Mealybug and CheckMate® VMB-F Mating Disruption

Suterra Jun 25, 2023 1:16:00 PM
Grapes on the vine in a California vineyard.

Concerned about vine mealybug in your vineyard? VMB both causes damage through feeding activity and can serve as a vector for grapevine leafroll-associated viruses. Learn about how you can use Suterra's CheckMate® mating disruption products to provide long-term protection for your grapes.

Vine mealybug in vineyards

Vine mealybug (Planococcus ficus) are small, flat, oval-shaped insects that are covered with a white mealy wax that extends into filaments along the edges of the body. While adult female VMB are largely immobile, adult males can fly up to ¼ of a mile to find a mate. Depending on the region and the time of year, VMB can be found on all parts of the vine, from bark, canes, clusters, and even parts of the roots.

Damage caused by vine mealybug is similar to other mealybug species that attack grapevines. VMB secretes honeydew as waste as they feed on the vines' phloem. As this honeydew drips onto the trunks, leaves, and clusters of the vine, the high sugar content of this waste can often lead to the development of fungal pathogens and an overall decline in vine health. Vine mealybug is considered a significant pest for vines due to the damage they cause through feeding activity and their ability to vector grapevine leafroll-associated viruses.

In many grape-growing regions, VMB is always present, and growers can see 7 or more generations over the course of the year. Because of this, continuous control becomes necessary even after the harvest period. Mating disruption offers growers a valuable tool to keep VMB populations low, limiting direct damage to bunches and vines, and minimizing the spread of leafroll viruses.

When considering mating disruption options to treat VMB, choosing the correct delivery system is important. Because VMB does not travel very far at any life stage, vineyards tend to have clusters of populations throughout, with hot spots of VMB activity; this means that uniform coverage of any mating disruption product is key to effective mealybug control.

Suterra offers mating disruption solutions for VMB in the form of our CheckMate® VMB-XL and CheckMate® VMB-F. CheckMate® VMB-XL is a long-lasting mating disruption dispenser that uses proprietary release technology that allows for continuous pheromone delivery throughout the vineyard. CheckMate® VMB-F offers growers a sprayable mating disruption solution that can be applied using familiar application methods (e.g., ground or aerial applications) and more novel approaches (e.g., ultra-low volume or drones). Both solutions effectively keep VMB populations low depending on the grower’s needs and what fits best within their operations.


What is CheckMate® VMB-F sprayable mating disruption?

With its microencapsulated formulation, you can think of each bottle of CheckMate® VMB-F as containing billions of microscopic capsules, each carrying their own pheromone payload. Once applied, these capsules act as their miniature dispensers, emitting a controlled release of pheromones 24/7 for up to 30 days of VMB control. This adaptable formulation can be easily integrated into an’ existing IPM program while ensuring the safety of non-target organisms, including beneficial insect species. CheckMate® VMB-F is compatible with many common agrochemicals and can be applied as a tank mix and a standalone application. Because CheckMate® VMB-F is a mating disruption product, it can be applied at lower volumes and higher speeds, as the coverage does not need to be the same as it is for insecticides.

When considering the application of mating disruption to a vineyard, CheckMate® VMB-F is a valuable part of the sprayable toolkit with the advantages of a short re-entry interval (4 hours), no pre-harvest interval, and exemption from MRLs.


How to apply CheckMate® VMB-F

At the suggested rate of 0.9 fl. oz/ac/application, 1 bottle of CheckMate® VMB-F will treat 30 acres. Prior to mixing, it is important to first resuspend the product by striking the bottle and shaking it vigorously, as separation is common for microencapsulated formulations. As a tank mix, be sure to add CheckMate® VMB-F last to the tank prior to application. Whether CheckMate® VMB-F is being applied as a tank mix or as a standalone, it is important to spray soon after mixing to keep the contents from separating again. Application can be made with traditional equipment, from the ground, aerial, ultra-low volume, and even drones.

The impact of VMB can be devastating to vineyards, from lower yield quality to removing countless vines due to infection from grapevine leafroll-associated viruses. Mating disruption provides a solution that is complementary to integrated pest management practices growers use. Whether deployed as either a sprayable or as dispensers, mating disruption is a highly effective means of control that provides great flexibility for the grower in their efforts to combat VMB and the spread of grapevine leafroll viruses.

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