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Host plant volatiles serve to increase the response of male European grape berry moths, Eupoecilia ambiguella, to their sex pheromone

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The European grape berry moth is an important pest in vineyards. Males respond to the female-produced sex pheromone released from a piezo nebulizer in a dose-dependent manner in a wind tunnel: <50% arrive at the source at 5–50 pg/min (underdosed), 80% arrive at 100 pg/min to 10 ng/min (optimal) and <20% arrive at 100 ng/min (overdosed). Males responding to overdosed pheromone show in flight arrestment at 80 cm from the source. Host plant chemostimuli for Eupoecilia ambiguella increase the responses of males to underdosed and overdosed pheromone. (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol, (+)-terpinen-4-ol, (E)-β-caryophyllene and methyl salicylate released with the underdosed pheromone cause a significant increase in male E. ambiguella flying to the source. Time–event analysis indicates a positive correlation between faster activation and probability of source contact by the responding males. The four host plant compounds added to the overdosed pheromone permitted males to take off faster and with a higher probability of flying to the source. This suggests that perception of host plant products with the sex pheromone facilitates male E. ambiguella to locate females on host plants, lending credence to the hypothesis that plant products can signal rendezvous sites suitable for mating.

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(Z)-9-Dodecenyl acetate


Dodecenyl acetate


Octadecyl acetate


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We thank Dr. Paul Becher and Dr. Denes Schmera (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland) and Dr. Pierre-Joseph Charmillot, Françoise Briand and Dr. Thomas Degen (Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil, Nyon, Switzerland) for discussions and Martine Bourquin and Susana da Costa for help with the rearing of E. ambiguella. Further, we thank Dr. Jean-Luc Perret and Stéphane Donnet (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland) for the installation and development of the 3D tracking system, Dr. Claudia Lozada-Can and Prof. Dr. Anthony Davison (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland) for their expert help with statistics. Funds for this project were provided by the Swiss Innovation Promotion Agency (CTI Project No. 7273.1 LSPP-LS2) and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Plant Survival, a research programme of the Swiss National Science Foundation based at the University of Neuchâtel.

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Correspondence to Patrick M. Guerin.

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Schmidt-Büsser, D., von Arx, M. & Guerin, P.M. Host plant volatiles serve to increase the response of male European grape berry moths, Eupoecilia ambiguella, to their sex pheromone. J Comp Physiol A 195, 853–864 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-009-0464-1

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  • Eupoecilia ambiguella
  • European grape berry moth
  • Pheromone–host plant volatile interaction
  • Insect behaviour
  • Sensory ecology