, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 239–248 | Cite as

Identification of kairomones of second instar nymphs of the variegated coffee bug Antestiopsis thunbergii (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae)

  • Teresiah N. NjihiaEmail author
  • Baldwyn Torto
  • Lucy K. Murungi
  • Janet Irungu
  • Dickson M. Mwenda
  • Régis Babin
Original Article


The variegated coffee bug Antestiopsis thunbergii Gmelin is a key pest of Coffea arabica in East Africa. Although the bug feeds on various parts of the coffee plant, it has a strong preference for mature green berries which are essential for the bug to complete its life cycle, reproduce and enhance its longevity. To locate mature green coffee berries, we hypothesized that second instar nymphs, which are the most mobile and active feeding immature stage of the bug, must rely on key volatile compounds emitted by the host for recognition. We tested this hypothesis using behavioral and electrophysiological assays and chemical analysis. In olfactometer assays, the second instar nymphs were strongly attracted to volatiles emitted from mature green berries but avoided those from ripe coffee berries of C. arabica. Coupled gas chromatography–electroantennographic detection (GC/EAD) isolated five antenally active components from mature green berries volatiles, four of which were identified by coupled GC–mass spectrometry as toluene, anisole, methyl 3-ethyl-4-methylpentanoate and (5S,7S)-conophthorin. In concentration assays, in which second instar nymphs did not respond to toluene, they were strongly attracted to anisole, methyl 3-ethyl-4-methylpentanoate and (5S,7S)-conophthorin, and a blend from the three compounds at concentrations lower or equivalent to the natural volatile extract. Our results suggest that the blend from these three compounds allows host recognition in second instar nymphs of the variegated coffee bug and is a candidate kairomone for monitoring the pest in coffee plantations.


Antestiopsis orbitalis Antestia bugs Coffee Coffea arabica Kairomones 



The authors would like to thank Mr. Isaac Gichia (Kiambu Mbumi farm and millers) for allowing us to obtain coffee berries and insects from his coffee plantation. We acknowledge the financial support for this research by the following organizations and agencies: Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), Montpellier, France; CHIESA project (Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystem Services and Food Security in Eastern Africa), icipe funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland;UK Aid from the UK Government; Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida); the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Kenya Government. The first author was supported by a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) In-Region Postgraduate Scholarship. We also thank Dr. Emilie Delétré for her helpful comments on the work and Dr. Chris Beadle for reviewing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teresiah N. Njihia
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Baldwyn Torto
    • 1
  • Lucy K. Murungi
    • 2
  • Janet Irungu
    • 1
  • Dickson M. Mwenda
    • 1
  • Régis Babin
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe)NairobiKenya
  2. 2.Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)NairobiKenya
  3. 3.Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD), UPR BioagresseursNairobiKenya
  4. 4.Bioagresseurs, Univ Montpellier, CIRADMontpellierFrance

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