Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 504–513 | Cite as

Responses of Second-Instar Male Nymphs of Four Mealybug Species (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) to Conspecific and Heterospecific Female Sex Pheromones

  • Zvi MendelEmail author
  • Poonum Jasrotia
  • Alex Protasov
  • Hofit Kol-Maimon
  • Anat Levi Zada
  • José Carlos Franco


The response of the late second-instar male nymphs of the mealybug species (Hemiptera, Pseudococcidae), Planococcus citri (Risso), Planococcus ficus (Signoret), Pseudococcus cryptus Hempel Nipaecoccus viridis (Newstead), to their conspecific and heterospecific female pheromone was studied. Males that exhibited the typical appearance of late-second-instar nymphs were tested. The male behavior was monitored soon after their exposure to the tested female sex pheromone in glass Petri dish arenas. Male nymph behavior toward the pheromone source was characterized based on their aggregation on the disks in the arena. Males of all four tested mealybug species were attracted to their conspecific female pheromone. By contrast, almost no interceptions of male nymphs with disks impregnated with a heterospecific female pheromone were observed. The mode of attraction of each of male nymphs of P. ficus, among most of the tested individuals (>80%), to the conspecific female sex pheromone, (S)-lavandulyl senecioate and or (S)-lavandulyl isovalerate, was the same as the mode of attraction latter on as adult. We suggest that by being attracted to the conspecific pheromone these males may direct themselves to a suitable pupation site near conspecific non-sibling mature females, thus preventing inbreeding. The repellency of heterospecific sex pheromone to males that are looking for a pupation site suggests that the latter try to avoid close contact with heterospecific females.


Mealybug male nymphs sex pheromone attraction 



We are grateful to Miriam Eliyahu and Daniela Fefer for their valuable technical assistance in rearing the studied mealybugs. We thank Ally Arari for her comments on an early draft of the manuscript and to two anonymous reviewers for the constructive remarks and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zvi Mendel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Poonum Jasrotia
    • 2
  • Alex Protasov
    • 1
  • Hofit Kol-Maimon
    • 1
  • Anat Levi Zada
    • 1
  • José Carlos Franco
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyARO, the Volcani CenterBet DaganIsrael
  2. 2.Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC)Michigan State University (MSU)East LansingUSA
  3. 3.Centro de Estudos Florestais, Instituto Superior de AgronomiaUniversidade Técnica de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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