, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 69–76 | Cite as

Parasitic wasps orient to green leaf volatiles

  • Douglas W. Whitman
  • Fred J. Eller
Research papers


Undamaged plants emit low levels of green leaf volatiles (GLVs), while caterpillar-damaged and artificially damaged plants emit relatively higher levels of certain GLVs. Female braconid parasitoids,Microplitis croceipes, oriented to both damaged plants and to individual GLVs in no-choice tests in a wind tunnel, but seldom oriented to undamaged plants. Female ichneumonid parasitoids,Netelia heroica, also oriented to individual GLVs in a wind tunnel. Males of both wasp species failed to orient to the GLVs. These data show that leaf-feeding caterpillars can cause the release of GLVs, and that parasitic wasps can respond to these odors by flying upwind (chemoanemotactic response), which brings the wasps to their caterpillar hosts. This supports the hypothesis that plants communicate with members of the third trophic level,i.e., plants under herbivore attack emit chemical signals that guide natural enemies of herbivores to sites of plant damage. In this interaction, the GLVs serve as tritrophic plant-to-parasitoid synomones. That parasitoids from two different wasp families oriented to GLVs suggests that the response may be widespread among the Hymenoptera.

Key words

green leaf volatile semiochemical synomone volatile attractant tritrophic host location parasitoid behavior Hymenoptera Braconidae Microplitis Ichneumonidae Netelia Lepidoptera Noctuidae Heliothis 


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Copyright information

© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart Stuttgart 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas W. Whitman
    • 1
  • Fred J. Eller
    • 2
  1. 1.Insect Biology and Population Management Research Laboratory USDA-ARSTiftonUSA
  2. 2.Insect Attractants, Behavior, and Basic Biology Research LaboratoryUSDA-ARSGainesvilleUSA

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