Alcoholism in cockchafers: orientation of male Melolontha melolontha towards green leaf alcohols
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Chemical orientation of the European cockchafer, Melolontha melolontha L., a serious pest in agriculture and horticulture, was investigated by field tests and electrophysiological experiments using plant volatiles. In total, 16 typical plant volatiles were shown to elicit electrophysiological responses in male cockchafers. Funnel trap field bioassays revealed that green leaf alcohols (i.e. (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol, (E)-2-hexen-1-ol and 1-hexanol) attracted males, whereas the corresponding aldehydes and acetates were behaviourally inactive. Furthermore, male cockchafers were attracted by volatiles from mechanically damaged leaves of Fagus sylvatica L., Quercus robur L. and Carpinus betulus L. However, volatiles emitted by damaged leaves of F. sylvatica attracted significantly more males than those from the other host plants. Odour from intact F. sylvatica leaves was not attractive to M. melolontha males. Females were not attracted by any of the tested volatile sources. The results suggest that plant volatiles play a similar role as a sexual kairomone in mate finding of M. melolontha, as has been shown for the forest cockchafer, Melolontha hippocastani F. Nevertheless, both species show remarkable differences in their reaction to green leaf alcohols.
KeywordsOdour Typical Plant Fagus Sylvatica Plant Volatile Quercus Robur
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