ISCA is a world leader in bug birth control

ISCA Inc. is a world leader in applying safe insect pheromones to control the world’s most damaging invasive insects. The US Forest Service now aerially applies SPLAT GM, ISCA’s pheromone control for the destructive gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, over hundreds of thousands of acres of US woodlands every year. These applications are in 10 states between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean and are a pillar of the Forest Service’s “Slow the Spread” gypsy moth control program. Once applied, droplets of SPLAT GM slowly release micro plumes of synthetic gypsy moth sex pheromones throughout forests. The male gypsy moths then follow these false trails and live out their short lives without finding females for mating Slow the Spread is the largest such bug birth control program in the world. ISCA’s role began with a grant in 2006 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was followed by several years of collaboration with the Forest Service to determine the optimal SPLAT GM formulation and application methods. We are now launching several other environmentally safe pheromone controls for the world’s major pests of vineyards, orchards, and row crops that−like SPLAT GM− are efficiently applied by aircraft or drones. Such safe and sustainable controls are greatly needed worldwide as more and more damaging insects develop resistance to conventional pesticides that also pollute the environment.


ISCA is meeting United Nations call for sustainable agriculture

The United Nations is urging the world’s farmers to “adopt environmentally friendly pest-management practices – including those based on biological approaches that do not kill pollinators and beneficial insects and organisms.”

It’s one of several recommendations that come with the UN General Assembly’s recent declaration that 202O is the “International Year of Plant Health” as part of the UN’s mission to end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.

ISCA stands ready to help growers worldwide meet this challenge. For more than two decades, ISCA has been developing a line of many pest-control solutions that use pheromones and other safe, naturally occurring compounds that control insect pests by manipulating their behavior.

“ISCA works with semiochemicals, the chemical cues already in nature, to control the devastating pests that destroy crops and spread disease,” said Agenor Mafra-Neto, ISCA’s CEO and co-founder. “Our innovations control these pests without polluting the environment or harming non-targeted species.”

Invasive insect pests, such as the fall armyworm, are causing food insecurity in parts Africa. Pictured here are two girls in a village outside of Muheza, Tanzania. ISCA photo by David Danelski

Several ISCA products work by preventing specific insect pest species from mating. These technologies release a synthetic version of a particular pest’s sex pheromone in the field, which confuses the males to point where they can’t find calling females for mating, and the next generation of damaging larvae never hatch.

Working with the US Department Agriculture, ISCA developed such a mating disruption control for the invasive gypsy moth that is now used in aerial treatments by the US Forest Service to protect woodlands in 10 US states between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

More recently, ISCA developed a mating disruption control called SPLAT FAW for the fall armyworm, a devasting moth species from South America that has spread recently through Africa and Asia. This moth has caused billions of dollars in damage and food shortages in Africa by devouring corn and several other crops.

We wouldn’t exist without plants. They provide the oxygen we breathe and most of the food we eat. Yet the UN’s Food Agriculture Organization estimates 40% of food crops are lost every year to plant diseases and insect pests.

Plant health is increasingly under threat, as climate change and human activity have reduced biodiversity and created new conditions where damaging pests can thrive. At the same time, a tripling of travel and trade volumes have allowed invasive pests to spread quickly around the world.

ISCA, however, is devoted to offering and creating environmentally safe, effective, and economical pest control innovations that prevent crop losses from these invasive pests.


ISCA is a partner in a groundbreaking pheromone biosynthesis project

Here is a video about a groundbreaking effort to manufacture insect pheromones needed for eco-friendly pest controls through biosynthesis, such as by “brewing” pheromones with genetically modified yeast. Compared to traditional chemical synthesis processes, putting microscopic yeast “cell factories” to work will slash costs and reduce waste. This video was posted on YouTube by Denmark based Olefine project. ISCA Global is a partner in this important project.

Naturally occurring pheromones control targeted agriculture and disease vector insect pests by manipulating their behavior, such as by preventing them from mating. Pheromones do not harm non-targetted species and are not prone to resistance.


Protecting California’s Luscious Dates

Commercial date palms in the Coachella Valley. ISCA photo by David Danelski.

Back in the 1990s, a locally produced PBS television show called “California’s Gold” hosted by an overly energetic Huell Howser raved about California’s date industry.

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Protecting Crops in Peru

ISCA’s global reach extends into the La Libertad region of northwest Peru, where asparagus and blueberry growers use ISCA’s Noctovi to control Noctuid moths species. Earlier this year, ISCA business development specialists Joey Palomera and Marco Chacon and our partners at Agro Cultiva and Agten met up with growers in the scenic valleys to help them protect their crops from hungry caterpillars. Here are some of their photographs:

  • A blueberry field in the La Libertad region of Peru. ISCA photo by Joey Palomera.


Spraying Antibiotics Doesn’t Stop Citrus Greening Progression

Oranges infected with citrus greening. Photo courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service

Researchers from the University of Florida sprayed the leaves of infected orange trees with the antibiotic oxytetracycline over six-months as recommended by the manufacturers and found no difference in the progression of citrus greening disease compared to trees that were sprayed with just water. Areawide Spraying of Antibiotics: is it worth the risk? To learn about this problem, click here to read the New York Times article by 



Males Getting Very Confused and Frustrated in the Frontier States

Check out this dispatch from forests of the Midwest USA by Agenor Mafra-Neto, ISCA’s  CEO and President:

Siren, Wisconsin, 16th of July, 2019.

Today the Slow the Spread Program Gypsy Moth (STS-GM) finished its annual aerial application of SPLAT GM-O to suppress mating of this pest over the eleven states where the population is expanding. ISCA Technologies’ organic, long-lasting, biodegradable sex pheromone formulation controls gypsy moth populations by suppressing mating. Yellow airplanes have been spreading SPLAT GM-O across thousands of acres of forests and wooded areas where this benign biodegradable formulation is deposited as small points. These point sources will emit for months a synthetic pheromone plume emulating those that are emitted by virgin female gypsy moths attempting to attract mates.

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Harnessing the Power of Mother Nature’s Chemical Cues

Semiochemicals are natural compounds
emitted by plants and animals to elicit
desired behaviors. Illustration by
Renato Leal, ISCA Technologies.

The natural world is a complicated place, populated by millions of species of plants and animals.

So just how do male and female insects of the same species find each other for mating in a jungle abuzz with thousands of species? Similarly, how do plants attract the right pollinators? How do mosquitoes know where to lay their eggs? The answer is semiochemicals: the naturally occurring compounds that plants and animals produce to elicit desired behaviors from other organisms.

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ISCA’s Bee Pollination Innovation Honored by Federal Business Program

ISCA’s bee pollination enhancement technology was honored as a success story of the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The program provides grants to small businesses to fund new innovations. 

Click here to see the SBIR article about this ISCA innovation called APIS Bloom that increases crop yields by increasing bee pollination rates.

Developed under grant support from the U.S. Department Agriculture, APIS Bloom focuses bees toward the desired crop areas.

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USDA Secretary Prioritizes Broadband Technology for America’s Farmland

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Today U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made “rural broadband for e-connectivity”  a top infrastructure priority for America’s farms.

 “Precision agriculture technologies are growing in popularity for their ability to improve farm management decisions, for increasing production and reducing input costs,”

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