Male locust borers, Megacyllene robiniae (Förster), responded to females only after contacting them with their antennae, indicating that mate recognition was mediated by a contact sex pheromone. GC-MS analyses of whole-body extracts of males and females determined that the profiles of compounds in the extracts were qualitatively similar, but differed considerably in the ratios of compounds between sexes. Biological activities of reconstructed blends of the most abundant straight-chain (nC23, nC24, nC25, nC26), methyl-branched (3me-C 23, 3me-C25), and unsaturated (Z9:C23, Z9:C25, Z9:C27) compounds in extracts from females were assessed in arena bioassays, assessing four distinct steps in the mating behavior sequence of males (orientation, arrestment, body alignment, mounting and attempting to couple the genitalia). Males were unresponsive to freeze-killed, solvent-washed females treated with blends of straight-chain and methyl-branched alkanes, but responded strongly to females treated with the blend of alkenes. Further trials determined that the complete sequence of mating behaviors, up to and including coupling the genitalia, was elicited by Z9:C25 alone. Z9:C25 comprised 16.4 ± 1.3% of the total hydrocarbons in whole-body hexane extracts of females and was co-dominant with two other hydrocarbons that were not active. In contrast, in solid phase microextraction (SPME) wipe samples from several areas of the cuticle, Z9:C 25 appeared as the single dominant peak, comprising 34.6 - 37.8% of the sampled hydrocarbons. Our data indicate that Z9:C25 is a contact sex pheromone of M. robiniae, being the most abundant hydrocarbon on the surface of the cuticular wax layer of females where it is readily accessible to the antennae of males.
- Cuticular hydrocarbon
- Mating behavior
- Solid phase microextraction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics