Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 17, Issue 10, pp 1963–1972 | Cite as

Chemoorientation of eastern tent caterpillars to trail pheromone, 5β-Cholestane-3,24-dione

  • Steven C. Peterson
  • T. D. Fitzgerald


Chemoorientation behavior of the larval eastern tent caterpillar,Malacosoma americanum, was studied using the synthetic trail pheromone 5β-cholestane-3,24-dione. Divergent arms of Y mazes were treated with various concentration ratios of the pheromone. At application rates of 10−10-10−9 g/mm of trail, larvae showed a significant preference for stronger trails when concentration ratios differed by as little as 4:1. At application rates of 10−8 and greater there was no significant difference in trail choice even when trails differed in strength by a full order of magnitude. Other studies showed that the caterpillars abandon the pattern of choosing stronger over weaker trails when they repeatedly fail to find food at the end of a stronger trail. Experiments in which larvae were required to choose trails separated by a gap demonstrated orientation by chemoklinotaxis. Caterpillars that had one of the maxillary palps ablated looped in the direction of their intact chemo-receptor when placed on filter paper treated uniformly with pheromone, indicating that they may also orient by tropotaxis. The relevance of these findings to the tent caterpillar communication system is discussed.

Key Words

Chemoorientation pheromone eastern tent caterpillar Malacosoma americanum trail following klinotaxis tropotaxis 5β-cholestane-3,24-dione Lepidoptera Lasiocamsidae 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven C. Peterson
    • 1
  • T. D. Fitzgerald
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of MarylandBaltimore County Catonsville
  2. 2.Department of Biological Sciences State University of New York, College at Cortland CortlandNew York

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