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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Charleston, South Carolina » Vegetable Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #362529

Research Project: Sustainable Approaches for Pest Management in Vegetable Crops

Location: Vegetable Research

Title: 13-Tetradecenyl acetate, a female-produced sex pheromone component of the economically important click beetle Melanotus communis (Gyllenhal) (Coleoptera: Elateridae)

item Williams, Livy
item SERRANO, JACQUELINE - University Of California
item JOHNSON, PAUL - South Dakota State University
item MILLAR, JOCELYN - University Of California

Submitted to: Scientific Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/14/2019
Publication Date: 11/7/2019
Citation: Williams III, L.H., Serrano, J.M., Johnson, P.J., Millar, J.G. 2019. 13-Tetradecenyl acetate, a female-produced sex pheromone component of the economically important click beetle Melanotus communis (Gyllenhal) (Coleoptera: Elateridae). Scientific Reports. 9(16197):1-12.

Interpretive Summary: Species-specific behavior-modifying chemicals have been used for more than 50 years for monitoring and management of insect pests of agriculture and human health. Insect pests that inhabit the soil have become increasingly problematic in recent years, in part due to the lack of effective management strategies. However, little is known about the insect-produced chemicals that mediate the reproductive behavior of these pests. We used chemical and behavioral studies to identify, synthesize, and field test the sex attractant of an economically important insect pest of U.S. crops, commonly called the corn wireworm. Our results indicated that a single female-produced chemical was strongly attractive to male insects of the same species, and did not appear to attract other species. In field evaluations, even a few drops of the lure attracted many male insects. In a trial comparing different slow-release dispensers a small piece of rubber impregnated with the chemical was as effective and easier to use than a ziplock bag dispenser. Given that the sex attractant of this insect consists of a single compound that can be readily synthesized, its development for monitoring and management of the corn wireworm may be both possible and economically feasible.

Technical Abstract: In recent years, the pest status of wireworms (Coleoptera: Elateridae) has increased, in part due to the lack of effective management strategies. Sex pheromones are powerful crop protection tools that are useful in the monitoring and management of insect pests. Here, we describe the identification, synthesis, and field evaluation of the sex attractant pheromone of the adults of an economically important elaterid, the corn wireworm, Melanotus communis (Gyllenhal). Coupled gas chromatography-mass spectrometric analyses identified 13-tetradecenyl acetate and tetradecyl acetate as compounds present in volatiles from crushed abdomens of females. We also tested several additional saturated and unsaturated 12- and 14-carbon acetates as possible pheromone candidates due to their previously reported attractiveness to North American Melanotus spp., and structural similarities to sex pheromones found in some Japanese Melanotus spp. Coupled gas chromatography-electroantennographic detection analyses and field bioassays of the pheromone candidates demonstrated that 13-tetradecenyl acetate elicited strong and consistent responses from male M. communis. In a dose-response study with 13-tetradecenyl acetate, beetle capture rates were greatest when lures were loaded with at least 10 mg of pheromone. In a study comparing different slow-release dispensers for 13-tetradecenyl acetate, rubber septa and polyethylene bag dispensers differed in their rates of capture throughout a period of 7 weeks, but resulted in similar total beetle captures. No other click beetle species present at our field sites were attracted to 13-tetradecenyl acetate.