Boffins turn 'worm in the apple' gay to save crops

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London, April 11 (ANI): Fruit experts have developed a novel technique to save millions of pounds worth of crops each year - the codling moth that tunnels through apples and pears will now be turned gay.

The grey insect with copper striped wings lays its eggs on fruit trees.

Once the yellow and black larvae hatch, they dig into ripening fruit to feast on the seeds.

Until now, the only way to stop the pest, known in America as the "worm in the apple", was by spraying orchards with pesticides.

However, this killed harmless insects disrupting the food chain.

Now food technologists at supermarket chain Sainsbury's have come up with a method wherein a male codling moth is coated with pheromone, a natural perfume used by the females to attract mates.

The males home in on the scented bait to no avail while the females remain unfertilised.

"Codling moths have the ability to devastate entire crops if left uncontrolled. The new technique means males are attracted to males, disrupting the breeding cycle and reducing dramatically the number of eggs able to produce baby moths," the Daily Express quoted a Sainsbury's spokesman, as saying.

He added: "Pheromone is a natural substance and, unlike other chemicals, is safe to use on both conventional and organic crops."

Alan Stubbs, chairman of conservation charity Buglife, said: "Using a technique to protect crops that does not rely on sprays which affect other species is the safest way to control a pest." (ANI)

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