Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 353–368 | Cite as

Differential Attraction of Heliothis subflexa Males to Synthetic Pheromone Lures in Eastern US and Western Mexico

  • Astrid T. GrootEmail author
  • Richard G. Santangelo
  • Emmarita Ricci
  • Cavell Brownie
  • Fred Gould
  • Coby Schal


The mate attraction signal of Heliothis subflexa (Hs) females consists of a multicomponent sex pheromone blend. In this study, we assessed the intraspecific importance of three groups of compounds found in Hs pheromone glands: three acetate esters (Z7-16:OAc, Z9-16:OAc, and Z11-16:OAc), two 14-carbon aldehydes (14:Ald and Z9-14:Ald), and one 16-carbon alcohol (Z11-16:OH). Because the relative importance of pheromone components may vary in different regions, we conducted experiments in Eastern US (North Carolina) and Western Mexico (Jalisco). Our experiments in Eastern US showed that when the acetates were omitted from a 7-component blend in rubber septa, fewer males were caught in cone traps. Subsequent experiments conducted both in Eastern US and Western Mexico indicated that the addition of Z9-16:OAc alone does not increase attraction of male Hs, while Z11-16:OAc does. The Hs male response to Z7-16:OAc differed between the two regions. In Eastern US, significantly more males were attracted to a minimal three-component blend to which Z7-16:OAc was added, but this was not the case in Western Mexico. The two 14-carbon aldehydes also showed differential attraction between the two regions. 14:Ald and Z9-14:Ald appeared not to play any role in the sexual communication of Hs in Eastern US, but reduced trap catches in Western Mexico. The alcohol Z11-16:OH was tested in two concurrent dose–response studies with Hs males in Western Mexico, one using a minimal blend and one using a complete blend. The minimal three-component blend provided a more discriminating tool for delineating dose–response effects of Z11-16:OH than the seven-component blend. In the minimal blend, the optimal dose of Z11-16:OH was 1%, while in the complete blend similar numbers of males were caught when the alcohol ranged from 1 to 25%.


Sexual communication Pheromone Pheromone component Geographic variation Acetate esters 16-Carbon alcohol 14-Carbon aldehydes Dose–response Minimal blend Complete blend 



We thank Dr. Ricardo Ayala from the Biological Research Station of the University of Mexico in Chamela, Jalisco, for all logistical help in Jalisco, Pepe Orozco (Aútlan), Vittorio Rincon (Chamela), Francisco Moreno (Hidalgo), Randy Bailey (Oxford), and Erwin Massengil (Smithfield) for granting access to their fields, Reid Evans and Cathy Herring from Central Crops Research Station Clayton, NC, and Nicole Benda and Jen Petzold for assisting with maintenance of the field plot in Clayton, and Scott Bowdridge for logistical help in North Carolina. This research was supported by grants from NSF Population Biology 0235400, the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), grant # 2005-00896, the W.M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology, and the Blanton J. Whitmire Endowment at North Carolina State University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Astrid T. Groot
    • 1
    Email author
  • Richard G. Santangelo
    • 1
  • Emmarita Ricci
    • 1
  • Cavell Brownie
    • 2
  • Fred Gould
    • 1
  • Coby Schal
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Entomology and W. M. Keck Center for Behavioral BiologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Department of StatisticsNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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