Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 24, Issue 12, pp 2167–2180

Identification of Floral Volatiles From Ligustrum japonicum that Stimulate Flower-Visiting by Cabbage Butterfly, Pieris rapae


  • Keiichi Honda
    • Study of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Integrated Arts and SciencesHiroshima University
  • Hisashi Ômura
    • Study of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Integrated Arts and SciencesHiroshima University
  • Nanao Hayashi
    • Study of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Integrated Arts and SciencesHiroshima University

DOI: 10.1023/A:1020750029362

Cite this article as:
Honda, K., Ômura, H. & Hayashi, N. J Chem Ecol (1998) 24: 2167. doi:10.1023/A:1020750029362


Floral scent compounds of Ligustrum japonicum that affect the foraging behavior of Pieris rapae adults were examined by means of chemical analyses, electroantennogram (EAG) responses, and behavioral bioassays; the behavioral biossays consisted of two tests: reflex extension of proboscis (REP) in response to odor, and attraction to scented and unscented artificial flowers. More than 30 compounds, including 2-phenylethanol, benzyl alcohol, and methyl phenylacetate as the major components were identified from L. japonicum flowers. Of these, 22 compounds were tested for their effect on foraging behavior. Phenylacetaldehyde (PA), 2-phenylethanol (PE), and 6-methylhept-5-en-2-one (MHO) elicited the highest REP responses, and benzaldehyde (BA) and methyl phenylacetate (MPA) evoked intermediate REP responses. EAG responses were not necessarily correlated with REP activities; the three high-REP compounds gave only moderate EAG responses, whereas two other compounds (ethyl phenylacetate and 2-phenylethyl acetate) that released high EAG responses showed low REP activities. In two-choice behavioral bioassays, flower models scented with any one of these high-REP compounds attracted significantly more adults, while compounds with low REP activities exhibited weak or no appreciable attractiveness. This suggests that the REP responsiveness closely reflects the attractiveness of a compound and could be an effective measure in elucidating which chemical attractants are involved in flower-visiting. A synthetic blend of five floral chemicals (PA, PE, MHO, BA, and MPA) displayed an attractiveness that was comparable to that of the floral extract and was more effective in attractiveness than the compounds tested singly. Consequently, it is highly likely that the flower-visiting by P. rapae to L. japonicum is mediated largely by floral scent chemicals and that a synergistic effect of the five floral components would be most responsible for attraction of the butterfly to this flower. The present results also strongly suggest that specific floral volatiles may facilitate close-range flower location by P. rapae, could serve in part as a cue for recognizing food sources, and also be profoundly implicated in flower preference.

Flower-visitingfloral scentPieris rapaePieridaeLigustrum japonicumOleaceaeproboscis extensionEAGphenylacetaldehyde2-phenylethanol6-methylhept-5-en-2-one

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998