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Hello,

I'm translating an article on the use of pheromones in agriculture.

One sentence reads:

The latest parasite to have its sex life threatened in this way is the moth Eldana saccharina, the scourge of sugar cane and maize in parts of .

"This way" means "spraying synthetic pheromones over crops"

I have taken the sentence to mean that synthetic pheromones have not yet been used in the case of Eldana saccharina (but are about to be). Now I'm not sure whether my implication is correct. Can the sentence also mean that the pheromones have already been used for some time?

Many thanks for enlightening me on this.

Lenny
Comments  
Hi,

The sentence is a bit ambiguous, but I take it to mean they have already been used.

Clive
Thank you, Clive.

So, the sentence could be taken both ways? Or is it ambiguous in yet another way?
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Hi,

In both the ways you suggest.

Clive
Here is more context, though I don't know whether it makes any difference.

Pheromones, those sexy perfumes that some insects use to lure their partners into mating, have been used more than once by wily farmers to control crop pests. The idea is to synthesize the parasite's phero­mones and to spray a large quantity over an entire crop. The result is confusion – males and females fail to recognize each other and a complete generation of insects never sees the light of day.

Though it may seem a little unsophisticated, the chaos tactic does work, as the pink boll worm, which attacks cotton plants, has found to its cost in some parts of the . The latest parasite to have its sex life threatened in this way is the moth Eldana saccharina, the scourge of sugar cane and maize in parts of .

The thing is that those pheromones prevent the insects from reproducing at all; when they are used, the "sexual life" of the moth (in this case) is not only "threatened", but virtually eliminated...at least that's how I understand it.
Hi,

Yes, that's the idea.
I wouldn't necesssarily think 'virtually eliminated', as that is a very strong statement.

Clive
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Okay. It's just that "threatened", on the other hand, seems to me to be too mild when speaking about a situation when the pheromones have already been used.
Hi,

Yes, it's the word 'threaten' that makes the sentence a bit unclear, because a threat usually comes before anything is actually done. Not a word I would have chosen.

Clive