, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 301-307,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 06 Feb 2008

Aphid and Plant Volatiles Induce Oviposition in an Aphidophagous Hoverfly


Episyrphus balteatus DeGeer (Diptera, Syrphidae) is an abundant and efficient aphid-specific predator. We tested the electroantennographic (EAG) response of this syrphid fly to the common aphid alarm pheromone, (E)-β-farnesene (EβF), and to several plant volatiles, including terpenoids (mono- and sesquiterpenes) and green leaf volatiles (C6 and C9 alcohols and aldehydes). Monoterpenes evoked significant EAG responses, whereas sesquiterpenes were inactive, except for the aphid alarm pheromone (EβF). The most pronounced antennal responses were elicited by six and nine carbon green leaf alcohols and aldehydes [i.e., (Z)-3-hexenol, (E)-2-hexenol, (E)-2-hexenal, and hexanal]. To investigate the behavioral activity of some of these EAG-active compounds, E. balteatus females were exposed to R-(+)-limonene (monoterpene), (Z)-3-hexenol (green leaf alcohol), and EβF (sesquiterpene, common aphid alarm pheromone). A single E. balteatus gravid female was exposed for 10 min to an aphid-free Vicia faba plant that was co-located with a semiochemical dispenser. Without additional semiochemical, hoverfly females were not attracted to this plant, and no oviposition was observed. The monoterpene R-(+)-limonene did not affect the females’ foraging behavior, whereas (Z)-3-hexenol and EβF increased the time of flight and acceptance of the host plant. Moreover, these two chemicals induced oviposition on aphid-free plants, suggesting that selection of the oviposition site by predatory hoverflies relies on the perception of a volatile blend composed of prey pheromone and typical plant green leaf volatiles.