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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #157048


item Aldrich, Jeffrey
item Zhang, Aijun

Submitted to: Journal of Entomological Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/13/2004
Publication Date: 10/1/2004
Citation: Aldrich, J.R., Zhang, Q., Zhang, A. 2004. Synergistic chemical attraction of the eastern yellowjacket, vespula maculifrons (hymenoptera: vespidae). Journal of Entomological Science 39: 643-653.

Interpretive Summary: Most deaths in the U.S. attributed to 'bee stings' are actually due to stinging of yellowjacket wasps. Although yellowjackets are beneficial insects because they feed on a variety of pest insects, when disturbed by man or animals they can inflict painful, life-threatening stings. Therefore, it is desirable to eliminate nuisance species of yellowjackets from areas of human activity. An effective chemical attractant is available for the western yellowjacket, but this chemical is ineffective for eastern U.S. species. Here we report that the combination of one artificial odor associated with molasses combined with another artificial odor associated with leaf-feeding insects attacked by yellowjackets results in a synergistic attraction of the kind of yellowjackets most dangerous to man and animals (i.e. attraction greater than the sum the sugar-based or meat-based lures alone). This discovery may lead to more effective commercial lures for yellowjackets, and the phenomenon of synergism is of academic interest to scientists studying the process of insect chemical attraction in general.

Technical Abstract: Formulations of (E)-2-hexenal diethyl acetal, racemic alpha-terpineol or linalool, with or without benzyl alcohol attracted wasps in the Vespula vulgaris species group, including the Eastern, Vespula maculifrons (Buysson), and German, V. germanica (F.), yellowjackets. (E)-2-Hexenal diethyl acetal degrades to release (E)-2-hexenal (the active attractant form) and ethanol, which may help kill yellowjackets caught in the water inside the traps used for testing. Combining the (E)-2-hexenal diethyl acetal/alpha-terpineol or linalool mixtures with another blend previously reported as attractive to yellowjackets (acetic acid/isobutanol) synergistically attracted the Eastern yellowjacket. It is hypothesized that the synergistic attraction is due to combining volatile chemicals associated with carbohydrate feeding (acetic acid/isobutanol) and volatiles associated with foraging for insect prey (hexenal/alpha-terpineol or linalool).