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Establishing abiotic and biotic factors necessary for reliable male pheromone production and attraction to pheromones by female plum curculios Conotrachelus nenuphar (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)

  • Virginia Hock (a1) (a2), Gérald Chouinard (a1), Éric Lucas (a2), Daniel Cormier (a1), Tracy Leskey (a3), Starker Wright (a3), Aijun Zhang (a4) and André Pichette (a5)...
Abstract

The plum curculio (PC), Conotrachelus nenuphar Herbst (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), is a key pest of stone and pome fruit in North America. Though grandisoic acid (GA) was identified as a male-produced aggregation pheromone for this species, other components likely exist, as have been identified for various curculionids. To better determine these components, an understanding of the conditions necessary for optimum pheromone production and attraction is needed, this is essential for the improvement of monitoring techniques and to achieve better biological control. The goal of this study was to determine the biotic and abiotic factors influencing both the response to pheromones and pheromone production. Tests were conducted in a dual-choice still-air vertical olfactometer using live male PCs as odour sources and live females as responders, to determine which physiological factors (age, number of males, mating status) influenced female response to males. Head-space collections of GA production under various conditions (airflow rate and frequency, collection zone strata, variation of humidity, temperature, and presence of a harbourage) were also done, as were electroantennograms (EAG) using synthetic pheromone mixtures. Results revealed that for both strains, the odour of two virgin mature males elicited significantly greater and more consistent attraction from mature virgin females than other ages and numbers of males when compared with the control. Head-space collections indicate that male PC have increased production of GA under high humidity in the presence of fruit, indicating that these conditions are necessary for optimal pheromone production and collection. EAG studies revealed significant responses to GrandLures I, II, III/IV and to the positive enantiomer of GA, and the amplitude of the signal varied with concentration. Our data identify the optimal physiological state and conditions at which pheromone collections should be performed, and what physiological life stages respond to these stimuli. These results have implications for optimising monitoring tools for this serious crop pest. This species has a northern univoltine strain and a southern multivoltine strain, both of which were examined in this study.

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1 Corresponding author: (e-mail: vhbioresearch@gmail.com).
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Subject editor: Véronique Martel

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