Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 24, Issue 12, pp 2167–2180 | Cite as

Identification of Floral Volatiles From Ligustrum japonicum that Stimulate Flower-Visiting by Cabbage Butterfly, Pieris rapae

  • Keiichi Honda
  • Hisashi Ômura
  • Nanao Hayashi


Floral scent compounds of Ligustrum japonicum that affect the foraging behavior of Pieris rapae adults were examined by means of chemical analyses, electroantennogram (EAG) responses, and behavioral bioassays; the behavioral biossays consisted of two tests: reflex extension of proboscis (REP) in response to odor, and attraction to scented and unscented artificial flowers. More than 30 compounds, including 2-phenylethanol, benzyl alcohol, and methyl phenylacetate as the major components were identified from L. japonicum flowers. Of these, 22 compounds were tested for their effect on foraging behavior. Phenylacetaldehyde (PA), 2-phenylethanol (PE), and 6-methylhept-5-en-2-one (MHO) elicited the highest REP responses, and benzaldehyde (BA) and methyl phenylacetate (MPA) evoked intermediate REP responses. EAG responses were not necessarily correlated with REP activities; the three high-REP compounds gave only moderate EAG responses, whereas two other compounds (ethyl phenylacetate and 2-phenylethyl acetate) that released high EAG responses showed low REP activities. In two-choice behavioral bioassays, flower models scented with any one of these high-REP compounds attracted significantly more adults, while compounds with low REP activities exhibited weak or no appreciable attractiveness. This suggests that the REP responsiveness closely reflects the attractiveness of a compound and could be an effective measure in elucidating which chemical attractants are involved in flower-visiting. A synthetic blend of five floral chemicals (PA, PE, MHO, BA, and MPA) displayed an attractiveness that was comparable to that of the floral extract and was more effective in attractiveness than the compounds tested singly. Consequently, it is highly likely that the flower-visiting by P. rapae to L. japonicum is mediated largely by floral scent chemicals and that a synergistic effect of the five floral components would be most responsible for attraction of the butterfly to this flower. The present results also strongly suggest that specific floral volatiles may facilitate close-range flower location by P. rapae, could serve in part as a cue for recognizing food sources, and also be profoundly implicated in flower preference.

Flower-visiting floral scent Pieris rapae Pieridae Ligustrum japonicum Oleaceae proboscis extension EAG phenylacetaldehyde 2-phenylethanol 6-methylhept-5-en-2-one 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barth, F. G. 1991. Insects and Flowers: The Biology of a Partnership. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 408 pp.Google Scholar
  2. Cantello, W. W., and Jacobson, M. 1979. Phenylacetaldehyde attracts moths to bladder flower and to blacklight traps. Environ. Entomol. 8:444–447.Google Scholar
  3. Dobson, H. E. M. 1994. Floral volatiles in insect biology, pp. 47–81, in E. A. Bernays (ed.). Insect–Plant Interactions, Vol. V, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.Google Scholar
  4. Gabel, B., ThiÉry, D., Suchy, V., Marion–Poll, F., Hradsky, P., and Farkas, P. 1992. Floral volatiles of Tanacetum vulgare L. attractive to Lobesia botrana Den. et Schiff. females. J. Chem. Ecol. 18:693–701.Google Scholar
  5. Haynes, K. F., Zhao, J. Z., and Latif, A. 1991. Identification of floral compounds from Abelia grandiflora that stimulate upwind flight in cabbage looper moths. J. Chem. Ecol. 17:637–646.Google Scholar
  6. Heath, R. R., Landolt, P. J., Dueben, B., and Lenczewski, B. 1992. Identification of floral compounds of night–blooming jessamine attractive to cabbage looper moths. Environ. Entomol. 21:854–859.Google Scholar
  7. Honda, K. 1973. Olfactory response of adults of butterflies to odorous compounds I. Sasakia charonda Hewitson. Nat. Insect 8:21–24.Google Scholar
  8. Honda, K. 1976. The role of olfactory and color senses in the feeding behavior in the adult of Nymphalis xanthomelas japonica Stichel (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae), with description of the preference on colors of flowers in the flower–visiting behavior. Trans. Lepid. Soc. Jpn. 27:52–58.Google Scholar
  9. Ilse, D. 1928. Über den Farbensinn der Tagfalter. Z. Vergl. Physiol. 8:658–692.Google Scholar
  10. Ilse, D., and Vaidya, V. G. 1956. Spontaneous feeding response to colours in Papilio demoleus L. Proc. Indian Acad. Sci. 43:23–31.Google Scholar
  11. Kikuchi, M., Kataoka, H., and Kurihara, T. 1981. Studies on the constituents of flowers. XV. On the components of the flower of Ligustrum japonicum Thunb. Yakugaku Zasshi 101:575–578.Google Scholar
  12. Lewis, A. C. 1989. Flower visit consistency in Pieris rapae, the cabbage butterfly. J. Anim. Ecol. 58:1–13.Google Scholar
  13. Lewis, A. C., and Lipani, G. A. 1990. Learning and flower use in butterflies: Hypotheses from honey bees, pp. 95–110, in E. A. Bernays (ed.). Insect–Plant Interactions, Vol. II, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.Google Scholar
  14. Miyakawa, M. 1976. Flower–visiting behavior of the small white butterfly, Pieris rapae crucivora Boisduval. Annot. Zool. Jpn. 49:261–273.Google Scholar
  15. Myers, J. H., and Walter, M. 1970. Olfaction in the Florida queen butterfly: Honey odour receptors. J. Insect Physiol. 16:573–578.Google Scholar
  16. Naumann, C. M., Ockenfels, P., Schmitz, J., and Francke, W. 1991. Reactions of Zygaena moths to volatile compounds of Knautia arvensis (Lepidoptera: Zygaenidae). Entomol. Gen. 15:255–264.Google Scholar
  17. Pellmyr, O. 1986. Three pollination morphs in Cimicifuga simplex; incipient speciation due to inferiority in competition. Oecologia 68:304–307.Google Scholar
  18. Raguso, R. A., Light, D. M., and Pickersky, E. 1996. Electroantennogram responses of Hyles lineata (Sphingidae: Lepidoptera) to volatile compounds from Clarkia breweri (Onagraceae) and other moth–pollinated flowers. J. Chem. Ecol. 22:1735–1766.Google Scholar
  19. Roelofs, W. L., and Comeau, A. 1971. Sex pheromone perception: Electroantennogram responses of the red–banded leaf roller moth. J. Insect Physiol. 17:1969–1982.Google Scholar
  20. Scherer, C., and Kolb, G. 1987a. Behavioral experiments on the visual processing of color stimuli in Pieris brassicae L. (Lepidoptera). J. Comp. Physiol. A 160:645–656.Google Scholar
  21. Scherer, C., and Kolb, G. 1987b. The influence of color stimuli on visually controlled behavior in Aglais urticae L. and Pararge aegeria L. (Lepidoptera). J. Comp. Physiol. A 161:891–898.Google Scholar
  22. Topazzini, A., Mazza, M., and Pelosi, P. 1990. Electroantennogram responses of five Lepidoptera species to 26 general odourants. J. Insect Physiol. 36:619–624.Google Scholar
  23. Wiesenborn, W. D., and Baker, T. C. 1990. Upwind flight to cotton flowers by Pectinophora gossypiella (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Environ. Entomol. 19:490–493.Google Scholar
  24. Zhu, Y., Keaster, A. J., and Gerhardt, K. O. 1993. Field observations on attractiveness of selected blooming plants to noctuid moths and electroantennograms responses of black cutworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) moths to flower volatiles. Environ. Entomol. 22:162–166.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keiichi Honda
    • 1
  • Hisashi Ômura
    • 1
  • Nanao Hayashi
    • 1
  1. 1.Study of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Integrated Arts and SciencesHiroshima UniversityHigashihiroshimaJapan

Personalised recommendations