, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 1703-1720

Chemical ecology of the palm weevilRhynchophorus palmarum (L.) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae): Attraction to host plants and to a male-produced aggregation pheromone

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Abstract

Attraction to host plants by adultRhynchophorus palmarum (L.) palm weevils was studied in the field and in the laboratory. Chemical analysis revealed the presence of ethanol and ethyl-acetate in stems of coco palms and in pineapple fruits and of pentane, hexanal, and isopentanol in coco stems. In the olfactometer, the first two compounds and isoamyl-acetate were attractive to the insects and the last three compounds, although not attractive by themselves, increased attractiveness when mixed with the first two compounds. Mixtures of these compounds, in proportions similar to the one occurring in attractive plant tissue, were as attractive as natural coconut tissue. In the field, the chemical compounds, either presented alone or as a mixture, did not attract the weevil. Males produce an aggregation pheromone when smelling ethyl-acetate. Rhynchophorol, 2(E)-6-methyl-2-hepten-4-ol, the known active component of the aggregation pheromone, attracts weevils in the olfactometer and in the field only if plant tissue, ethyl-acetate, or the above-mentioned odor mix are present. We propose that a complex mix of ethanol, ethyl-acetate, pentane, hexanal, isolamyl-acetate, and/or isopentanol serve as a short-range orientation cue to fresh wounds on the plant and that additional host odors, attracting weevils from a distance, have still to be discovered. Rhynchophorol can be considered to be a Synergist, having an anemotactic action at a distance. We recommend the use of retention traps baited with rhynchophorol, ethyl-acetate, and sugar cane as an alternative control method for the pest.