This article was originally published on Ensia


Years of eavesdropping on insect sex talk is starting to pay off for grape growers: Disrupting the vibrations insects use to find mates could help prevent the spread of disease in vineyards around the world.

Entomologists have taken the act of bugging conversations to a whole new level — recording sexual vibrations emitted by tiny insects living on grapevines in vineyards. What may seem like a callous act of insect espionage is actually an innovative technique in pest management, decades in the making, chemical free and not lethal to anything.

Vineyards across the U.S. and Italy are being devastated by incurable diseases caused by bacteria hitching a ride on leafhoppers — a diverse group of plant-piercing insects closely related to cicadas. Now, thanks to some innovative research, scientists are using a technique called vibrational mating disruption to interrupt male-leafhopper courtship songs, preventing them from finding mates and slowing population growth…”

Read on at: Ensia.