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Responses of Phradis parasitoids to volatiles of lavender, Lavendula angustifolia—a possible repellent for their host, Meligethes aeneus


Hymenopterous parasitoids of herbivorous insects can be useful biocontrol agents in integrated pest management strategies. However, the potential effects on these beneficials of new components in such strategies are often neglected. Essential oil of lavender, Lavendula angustifolia (Miller) (Lamiaceae), has recently been identified as a potential repellent in new control strategies being developed for the pollen beetle Meligethes aeneus (Fabricius) (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae), a major pest of oilseed rape, Brassica napus L. (Brassicaceae). We tested the electrophysiological and behavioural responses of two common parasitoids of M. aeneus: Phradis interstitialis (Thomson) and P. morionellus (Holmgren) (both Ichneumonidae) using coupled gas chromatography-electroantennodetection (GC-EAD) and olfactometry techniques. Both species elicited electrophysiological responses to lavender oil volatiles, including two compounds known to be repellent to M. aeneus. However, the parasitoids gave no significant responses to the odours of lavender oil in behavioural bioassays and there was no evidence to suggest that lavender-treated oilseed rape plants would reduce host habitat location by parasitoids of the target pest.

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We thank Barry Pye for spraying the plants and Ingrid Williams for her support throughout this study. This work was facilitated by John Pickett and funded by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Rothamsted Research receives grant-aided support from the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

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Correspondence to Samantha M. Cook.

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Cook, S.M., Jönsson, M., Skellern, M.P. et al. Responses of Phradis parasitoids to volatiles of lavender, Lavendula angustifolia—a possible repellent for their host, Meligethes aeneus . BioControl 52, 591–598 (2007).

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  • Brassica napus
  • Electroantennography
  • Meligethes aeneus
  • Non-host plant volatiles
  • Olfactometer
  • Phradis interstitialis
  • Phradis morionellus
  • Pollen beetle