Start Date: May 27, 2005
End Date: Mar 25, 2010
Seek pheromones and host-plant related attractants for selected insect species. Species studied will include, but not be limited to, Diorhabda elongata (a biocontrol agent of saltcedar), Galerucella calmariensis (a biocontrol agent of purple loosestrife), and various flea beetle species (including vegetable crop pests and also biocontrol agents of leafy spurge). Collect volatiles from male and female insects and from host plants and analyze these by gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and electrophysiology (“electroantennograms”). Those compounds that are emitted by just one sex and that are detected with great sensitivity by the insect antennae are likely to be pheromone components. Similarly, host plant compounds with high antennal sensitivity are potential attractants. Identify the structures of these key compounds using mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, chemical tests, and other appropriate methods. Synthesize the compounds using the methods of organic chemistry or otherwise obtain them in bulk from botanical or other sources. Use techniques such as “sticky traps” or other trapping methods to evaluate the attractiveness of synthetic compounds under field conditions, relative to controls and also to live insects. Characterize the behavior toward the attractants under laboratory conditions, if possible. Develop the newly identified attractants as practical insect management tools, for monitoring or manipulating populations of the insects under consideration. For key pheromones, such as those of nitidulid beetles, develop new synthetic schemes suitable for commercial pheromone production.