, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 155-166

First Identification of a Putative Sex Pheromone in a Praying Mantid

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Praying mantids are models for a wide variety of behavioral, physiological, and ecological studies, and sex pheromones have been assumed to be important components of their biology. However, no mantid pheromone has ever been identified. We collected volatiles emitted by females of the mantid, Sphodromantis lineola, via solid phase microextraction (SPME). Mass spectral analysis revealed the collected volatiles to be a mixture of pentadecanal and tetradecanal. We prepared a synthetic mixture of these compounds, and found that males were both attracted to this mixture and stimulated to exhibit typical precopulatory behavior. We then examined male antennae with scanning electron microscopy, and confirmed the presence of porous antennal sensilla typical of insect pheromone receptors, i.e., that male mantids are equipped with the appropriate morphological apparatus to receive volatile chemical signals. Pheromones, in conjunction with visual and tactile cues, are thus an important feature of the reproductive biology of this, and undoubtedly other species of mantids. In addition to adding a crucial aspect of behavioral biology to our knowledge of this group, identification and synthesis of mantid pheromones may be a first step in attracting and aggregating these generalist predators for use in pest control.