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The effect of a green leaf volatile on host plant finding by larvae of a herbivorous insect


 The role of a general green leaf volatile (glv) in host finding by larvae of the oligophagous chrysomelid Cassida denticollis was investigated using a new bioassay which takes into account the need for neonate larvae of this species to climb fresh host plants from the ground. A "stem arena" was designed in which plant stems of the host, tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), and stem dummies (tooth picks), both wrapped in perforated filter paper, were offered to neonate larvae. The wrapping allowed olfactory responses to be tested by preventing access to contact stimuli of stems and dummies. Larvae significantly preferred to climb the wrapped tansy stems over dummies after a period of 15 min. The test glv, (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol, was not attractive when applied to dummies. However, when the glv was applied to the bottom of the arena, the ability of larvae to discriminate between host stems and untreated dummies was significantly enhanced. More larvae climbed wrapped host stems than dummies even within 5 min. While numerous other herbivorous insects are known to be directly attracted by glv, this study shows that a singly offered glv on its own is unattractive to an herbivore but enhances the herbivore's ability to differentiate between host and nonhost plants.

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Received: 19 October 1999 / Accepted in revised form: 28 February 2000

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Müller, C., Hilker, M. The effect of a green leaf volatile on host plant finding by larvae of a herbivorous insect. Naturwissenschaften 87, 216–219 (2000).

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  • Filter Paper
  • Host Plant
  • Arena
  • Green Leaf
  • Herbivorous Insect