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The olive fruit fly Bactrocera oleae Gmelin is the most important pest of olives in the Mediterranean area, causing significant economic damage. If not efficiently controlled, production can fall by 80%. Furthermore, olive oil’s acidity increases and its organoleptic characteristics change, affecting the oil quality.

The most wide spread method of olive fruit fly control is large scale preventive bait sprays with an aqueous solution of food attractants (3-6%) and a broad spectrum organophosphoric insecticide (0.03-0,3%).

There is an obvious drawback to this practice, since it is well known that the wasteful over-use of insecticides poses a threat both for the environment and public health. For this reason, considerable efforts are made in all the Mediterranean countries to develop alternative olive fruit fly control methods minimizing or even eliminating chemical sprays. These methods are based either on biological (natural predators, parasites, diseases etc.) or biochemical means (pheromones, enzymes, food attractants and aim at controlling the insect population at levels where economic consequences are not significant. The first olive fruit fly control method avoiding insecticidal sprays has been successfully developed and applied in Greece. It is a mass trapping method using a pheromone as attractant and it is based on VIORYL’s product ECO-TRAP.

It should be mentioned here, that pheromones are chemical substances or mixtures of chemical substances excreted by insects as a message to other insects. For example, a female olive fly excretes such a pheromone to attract a male for reproduction.

After successful industrial scale synthesis of the olive fruit fly pheromone in the 80s, VIORYL was involved in formulation of the pheromone. Many systems were studied and eventually a dispenser was formulated which allowed slow release of the pheromone in combination with a strong food attractant (ammonium bicarbonate) and an insecticidal surface. Field tests proved that the product was very effective. Fruit infestation was considerably lower than in neighboring fields, where olive fruit fly was controlled by bait sprays air or ground applied. ECO-TRAP is active for longer than six months and it is the only trap that has been successful for olive fruit fly control by mass trapping.
ECO-TRAP consists of:
A green paper envelope, 15X20cm, impregnated externally with deltamethrin (insecticide). The envelope contains ammonium bicarbonate (food attractant) and
A pheromone dispenser.
ECO-TRAP offers the following advantages:
  • Olive fruit fly is controlled effectively avoiding insecticidal sprays
  • No chemical residues are left on olive fruit and leaves
  • No chemical insecticides are spread in the environment
  • Predators’ population is not affected
  • Predator and parasitoid populations are not affected

ECO-TRAP is extensively used as a mass trapping method for olive fruit fly control at several areas in Greece and other Mediterranean countries such as Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, Jordan and Turkey.
In 2000, the undeniable advantages of ECO-TRAP led USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to register ECO-TRAP for olive fruit fly control in California after having been in contact with VIORYL for experimental testing and consultation since 1998, when olive fruit fly appeared for the first time in this area of the world.

ECO-TRAP is, at present, the only product for olive fruit fly control that complies with organic farming guidelines and European Union regulations (2091/1991, 2092/1991, 1488/1997 and 473/2002). Of course, it can be used for ordinary, non-organic, farming as well.