Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 94–98 | Cite as

Ethyl 4-Methyl Heptanoate: A Male-Produced Pheromone of Nicrophorus vespilloides

  • Wolf HabererEmail author
  • Thomas Schmitt
  • Klaus Peschke
  • Peter Schreier
  • Josef K. Müller


Sexually mature male beetles of the genus Nicrophorus (Coleoptera: Silphidae) exhibit a conspicuous behavior, recognized as pheromone-releasing activity. Laboratory and field studies demonstrated that females are attracted to males that exhibit this behavior, both on or off reproductive resources. Here, we report the results of a study in which volatile chemicals released by calling Nicrophorus vespilloides were collected by solid-phase microextraction and analyzed by using coupled gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. These analyses revealed that ethyl 4-methyl heptanoate and (E)-geranylacetone are emitted by males that engage in the behavior. In the field, traps baited with racemic ethyl 4-methyl heptanoate caught roughly equal numbers of male and female N. vespilloides. Some male and female Nicrophorus vespillo and male Nicrophorus humator were also caught in traps baited with this compound. Traps baited with (E)-geranylacetone did not catch significant numbers of beetles.


Nicrophorus Silphidae Burying beetle Male attractant pheromone Volatile Ethyl 4-methyl heptanoate (E)-geranylacetone Coleoptera Silphidae 



We thank Anne-Katrin Eggert and Stephen Ellis for valuable comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolf Haberer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas Schmitt
    • 1
  • Klaus Peschke
    • 1
  • Peter Schreier
    • 2
  • Josef K. Müller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Food ChemistryUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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