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Efficacy and suitability of liquid ethyl formate for insect pest management

McKirdy, Hamish Leonard Robertson (2022) Efficacy and suitability of liquid ethyl formate for insect pest management. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The Australian agricultural industry is critical to the nation’s economy. However, it is under significant threat from insect pests that damage crops both pre- and post-harvest. As a result, quarantine/biosecurity treatments in the form of fumigations form the vanguard of Australia’s defence against insect pests, both established and threatening to establish. The brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive pest yet to establish in Australia stands to cause enormous financial damage to multiple crops, an example being this thesis’ estimated cost over $300 million worth of damage to Australian wine grape production alone should poor biosecurity allow its establishment. Currently employed biosecurity treatments such as heat treatment, methyl bromide and sulfuryl fluoride are flawed when it comes to this pest. This has prompted evaluation of the organic and food-grade compound ethyl formate. Ethyl formate trials found that Probit 9 could be achieved in low temperatures against tolerant diapausing brown marmorated stink bug at 23.51 mg/L. It was then important to evaluate the potential of ethyl formate to protect one of Australia’s most valuable agricultural exports, grain. Currently the export grains value chain relies on phosphine to meet federally mandate nil-tolerance for live insects, but this future of this fumigant is threatened by resistance development. The simulated grain silo bioassay found that grain sorption of the fumigant did not prevent ethyl formate from effectively controlling adult stored grain insect pests. Finally, it was important to evaluate the potential inter-reaction between ethyl formate and representative materials / products encountered in biosecurity treatments. Results from this evaluation found no deleterious effects on the integrity and function of various plastics and metals. In conclusion, ethyl formate was shown to be a safe, reliable and effective fumigant with a range of applications, and needs to be considered as potential mainstay biosecurity treatment for both import and exports.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Agricultural Sciences
Food Futures Institute
Supervisor(s): Ren, Yonglin, Campos, Mariana, Landman, Peter and Liu, T-X
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