New sea lamprey control method found

A new approach to sea lamprey control could help reduce the impact of this invasive species further.

Anne Scott, professor at Michigan State University, has been working with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and US Geological Survey to identify olfactory (scent) based compounds that disrupt a lamprey’s ability to smell the potent sex pheromone released by male sea lamprey.

When lamprey reach streams to spawn, they are virtually blind and scent is the only way the males and females find each other. Researchers found petromyzonol tetra sulfate (3SPZS) can stop the females and males from hooking up.

While research is preliminary, this discovery looks promising. In the future, lamprey pheromones could be used to lure them into traps. And 3SPZS could be used to limit spawning of those that cannot be trapped.

While the current approach of using lampricide can kill up to 97% of lamprey larvae, it still leaves some lamprey for a future generation. The latest discovery could provide a highly effective tool to supplement the control techniques already in use.