Potato tuber moth (PTM), Phthorimaea operculella
(Zeller), is one of the pests that cause the most damage to potatoes ( Solanum tuberosum
L.) in both field crops and storage, especially in regions where summers are hot and dry. Larvae develop in the foliage and tubers of potatoes and cause direct losses of edible product. The use of synthetic pheromones that interfere with insect mating for pest control has been widely demonstrated in numerous Lepidoptera and other insect species. An experiment was carried out during the 2004-2005 season in Valle del Elqui, Coquimbo Region, Chile, to evaluate the effectiveness of different pheromone trap densities to capture P. operculella
males for future development of a mass trapping technique, and a subsequent decrease in insect reproduction. The study evaluated densities of 10, 20, and 40 traps ha -1
, baited with 0.2 mg of PTM sexual pheromone, and water-detergent for captures. Results indicated that larger numbers of male PTM were captured per trap with densities of 20 and 40 traps per hectare, resulting in a significant reduction (P < 0.05) of tuber damage in these treatments compared with the control which used conventional chemical insecticide sprays.