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Disruption of sexual communication in the mirid bug Lygocoris pabulinus by hexyl butanoate

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1 The metathoracic scent gland in Lygocoris pabulinus contains mostly hexyl butanoate. As secretions of this gland in Heteroptera may serve as an alarm pheromone, we determined whether hexyl butanoate is released by disturbed bugs, and whether this compound disrupts sexual attraction of L. pabulinus males towards females.

2 Undisturbed males and females, and disturbed males released less than 100 ng/h hexyl butanoate, whereas disturbed females released a highly variable amount, ranging from 25 ng/h to more than 1 g/h.

3 In the field, traps with virgin females and rubber septa containing 20 mg hexyl butanoate, caught a total of one male in a month. In control traps without hexyl butanoate, 36 males were caught in the same period.

4 In Y-track olfactometer tests, males were not attracted to virgin females when a dispenser with 20 mg hexyl butanoate was placed in the bottle with females. Males were attracted to females when the dispenser was placed downwind from the females, but upwind from the point of male release.

5 These results suggest that males are not repelled by hexyl butanoate, but that this compound inhibits sex pheromone release in females. Application possibilities for pest management are discussed.

Keywords: Alarm pheromone; Heteroptera; Miridae; dispersal behaviour; metathoracic scent gland; pest management; sex pheromone inhibition

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Plant Research International, Wageningen University and Research Center, PO Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands and 2: Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, Phytochemical Section, Wageningen University and Research Center, Dreijenplein 8, 6703 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands

Publication date: February 1, 2001


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