, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 443-469

Orientation of male gypsy moths,Lymantria Dispar (L.), to pheromone sources: The role of olfactory and visual cues

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The role of olfaction and vision in the close-ranging flying and walking orientation of male gypsy moths, Lymantria dispar(L.), to females was studied in the forest and in the laboratory. In the forest, feral males found an isolated pheromone source as readily as one supplemented with female visual cues; dead, acetonerinsed females deployed without pheromone received virtually no visitations. In flight tunnel choice experiments using cylinders as surrogate trees and pheromone in different spatial configurations, visual attributes of the female did not influence either the males' choice of landing site or the efficiency with which they located the female. Rather, the presence of pheromone on the cylinder was necessary to elicit orientation as well as landing and walking on the cylinder. When a female visual model was placed in various positions around a pheromone source, walking males oriented primarily to the chemical stimulus. There were, however, indications that males would alter their walking paths in response to female visual cues over short distances (<5 cm), but only if they continued to receive pheromone stimulation. When visual and chemical cues were abruptly uncoupled by altering the trajectory of the pheromone plume, most males responded to the loss of the odor cue rather than to visual cues from the female. Temporal pheromone stimulation patterns affected male walking orientation. When stimulated by pheromone, males oriented toward the source; loss of the odor cue prompted an arearestricted local search characterized by primarily vertical and oblique movements with frequent reversals in direction. Presumably these maneuvers enhance the likelihood of recontacting the plume or serendipitously encountering the female. The apparent lack of visual response to the female is discussed in light of morphological and behavioral evidence suggesting that gypsy moths were formerly nocturnal.