Behavioral responses of the parsnip webworm to host plant volatiles

Mark J. Carroll, May R. Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sixth instars of the parsnip webworm, Depressaria pastinacella, orient by olfaction to bud, male flowers, and female flowers of their primary host plant, Pastinaca sativa. Because octyl acetate and octyl butyrate are characteristic of tissues consumed by the sixth instar, we investigated the influence of these esters on webworm feeding behavior and chemo-orientation. Although octyl acetate and octyl butyrate are feeding deterrents, and octyl butyrate is an olfactory repellent, octyl acetate serves as an olfactory attractant. In olfactometers, webworms do not show a preference when given a choice between octyl acetate and host plant tissues. These findings suggest that octyl acetate is a sufficient cue for olfactory orientation. Such behavior may explain differences in the relative abundance of these esters observed among populations of wild parsnip under differential selection pressure from these insects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2191-2201
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002


  • Attractant
  • Depressaria pastinacella
  • Deterrent
  • Gustation
  • Lepidoptera
  • Olfaction
  • Pastinaca sativa
  • Volatiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry

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