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A Male Sex Pheromone in a Scorpionfly


It has been postulated that males of a number of scorpionfly species produce sex pheromones. This is based on the observation that females often respond only to conspecific males when they evert their genital pouch, the proposed site of pheromone release. In this study, we prove that in Panorpa germanica (Mecoptera, Panorpidae), the eversion of a male’s genital pouch is associated with the release of a volatile sex pheromone. In dual choice situations, females showed a high preference for ‘calling’ (males with everted genital pouch) over noncalling individuals. Volatiles emitted by males and females were collected and identified by coupled gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Two aldehydes [(2E,6Z)-nona-2,6-dienal and (E)-non-2-enal] were characteristic of calling males but not of noncalling or immature males or females. Bioassays with synthetic compounds confirmed that the identified substances are attractive to females. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first identification of a sex pheromone in scorpionflies.

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Financial support was provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; SA 259/7—1 to 4). J. Ruther was supported by a Heisenberg fellowship (grant RU 717/7-1) of the DFG.

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Correspondence to Dagmar Kock.

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Kock, D., Ruther, J. & Sauer, K.P. A Male Sex Pheromone in a Scorpionfly. J Chem Ecol 33, 1249–1256 (2007).

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  • Sex attraction
  • (2E,6Z)-Nona-2,6-dienal
  • (E)-Non-2-enal
  • Male pheromone
  • Female mate choice
  • Scorpionflies
  • Mecoptera
  • Panorpa germanica