Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 40–47 | Cite as

Factors Associated with Variation in Cuticular Hydrocarbon Profiles in the Navel Orangeworm, Amyelois transitella (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae)

  • Esther N. NgumbiEmail author
  • Lawrence M. Hanks
  • Andrew V. Suarez
  • Jocelyn G. Millar
  • May R. Berenbaum


Cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) are the main components of the epicuticular wax layer that in many insects functions as a barrier against desiccation. CHCs also play many other roles, including serving as sex pheromones, kairomones, primer pheromones, and colony-, caste-, species- and sex-recognition signals. In insects, CHC profiles can vary depending upon age, species, sex, and strain. Understanding factors associated with variation in hydrocarbon profiles is important for identifying potential vulnerabilities relating to pest ecology and life histories and for developing tools for pest monitoring and management strategies. In this study, we assessed potential sources of variation in CHC profiles in the navel orangeworm Amyelois transitella (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), an economically important pest of nut crops in California. Using coupled gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we characterized and compared CHC profiles between adults of pyrethroid-resistant (R347) and susceptible (ALMOND) strains. We further compared CHC profiles from adults differing in age (1, 3, 5, and 7 d post-eclosion) and sex. Hydrocarbon profiles comprised 47 different CHCs in detectable quantities that ranged from C17 to C43 in chain length and included straight-chain alkanes and a variety of mono-, di-, and tri-methylalkanes. Adults from resistant populations had greater quantities of CHCs in total than those from susceptible strains, but relative quantities of individual components were similar. The six most abundant compounds were n-pentacosane, n-heptacosane, n-nonacosane, n-hentriacontane, 11,25 + 13,23 + 15,21-dimethylpentatriacontane, and 13,23 + 11,25 + 9,17-dimethylheptatriacontane. Post-eclosion, total CHCs increased with adult age, with males producing greater quantities than females at all ages. Our results show that CHC profiles vary depending on age, sex, and strain and suggest that CHC profiles may be useful as biomarkers to differentiate between insecticide- resistant and susceptible populations.


Epicuticular lipids Cuticular penetration Sexual dimorphism Pesticide Management 



We thank Mark Demkovich for assistance with the insect colonies and for reviewing early drafts of the manuscript. We also thank Liqun Zeng and Daniel Bush for assistance with data analysis, and Judy Mongold-Diers and Jodie Ellis for assisting with the GC-MS analyses. We thank Joel Siegel for technical advice.

Supplementary material

10886_2019_1129_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (15 kb)
10886_2019_1129_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (15 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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