Influence of host plants on sexual communication in the herbivorous bug Lygocoris pabulinus

A.T. Groot, J.H. Visser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Host plant volatiles may be involved in the sexual communication of insects in several ways. In the pheromone-producing sex, these volatiles may affect pheromone production or release and, in the receptive sex, plant volatiles may have a synergistic effect on the attraction to sex pheromone. We conducted three types of experiments to determine if and how plant volatiles are involved in the sexual communication of Lygocoris pabulinus (L.) (Heteroptera: Miridae), the females of which attract males. In a one-choice cylinder bioassay, females were offered to males on two different plants, belonging to different plant families, i.e. potato leaves and goosefoot leaves, to determine if specific plant volatiles were involved in the attraction of males towards females. Females on potato leaves were as attractive as females on goosefoot leaves, but significantly more attractive than females without plant material. The latter result suggests an interaction between females and potato leaves. However, in two-choice flying and walking bioassays, using delta traps in a wind tunnel and a vertical Y-track olfactometer, males were attracted to females irrespective of the presence of potato leaves. This difference in result is probably due to the fact that in the latter assays females were confined with pollen as an alternative food source, while females in the one-choice assay had access to water only, so that they may have suffered from malnutrition. Males in the one-choice assay were also attracted to potato leaves from which females had been removed, indicating that attractive components from females are deposited and adsorbed to the substrate. Plants are probably only indirectly involved in sexual communication, their surface merely functioning as a substrate from which pheromone is released. Males may subsequently be attracted to such plants or substrates. Clean plant material was not attractive to L. pabulinus males, hence plant volatiles alone do not seem to be used by these males as possible mate location cues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-166
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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