‘Good Vibrations’ – Developing and testing the efficacy of biotremology as a control strategy to disrupt mating/reproductive success in Lygus rugulipennis and Drosophila suzukii in strawberry

The UK Soft Fruit industry faces several challenges, including uncertain chemical pesticide approvals, the loss of actives (and associated insecticide resistance), emerging and invasive pests and climate change, which can result in higher insect pest populations as well as unpredictable outbreaks. Effective alternative approaches to pest control are therefore required to prevent a reliance on chemical intervention.

The invasive Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD, Drosophila suzukii Matsumura), and capsid European Tarnished Plant Bug (ETPB, Lygus rugulipennis Poppius) are both serious pests of commercial strawberry in the UK, having the potential to reduce marketable yields of fruit by 50% and more, if left uncontrolled (AHDB, SF 174 report 2021).

Biotremology, the study of mechanical vibrations and their effect on organism behaviour, has revealed that some insects, including ETPB, use vibration signalling at species-specific frequencies in their close-range courtship, in addition to strategies such as semiochemical, visual and audial communication. Interfering with these signals could reduce mating and reproductive success and therefore pest population growth.


The aims of the laboratory trial were:

  • to explore methods of sending vibrations through different platforms to ensure these signals can be detected by the pest insects.
  • to identify how to power the equipment for future use in the field, not connected to mains power.
  • to execute replicated laboratory trials to assess the impact biotremology has on SWD oviposition.

The aims of the semi-field based trial were:

  • to determine whether a method of biotremology can be employed in commercial tabletop growing systems
  • to determine whether biotremology could reduce the incidence of capsid feeding damage (cat-facing) in strawberry.
  • to determine whether egg-laying and larval counts of the soft fruit pest SWD may also be reduced using the same methodology.

This information was last updated in 2022.