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Annu Rev Entomol. 1997;42:371-91.

Host plant influences on sex pheromone behavior of phytophagous insects.

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USDA, Agricultural Research Station, Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory, Wapato, Washington 98915, USA.


The sexual behavior of phytophagous insects is often integrated in a variety of ways with their host plants. This integration may be manifested as effects or influences of host plants on insect physiology and behavior, including sex pheromone communication, that reflect strategies by insects to optimize mating and reproduction. Certain insects sequester or otherwise acquire host plant compounds and use them as sex pheromones or sex pheromone precursors. Other insects produce or release sex pheromones in response to particular host plant cues. Chemicals from host plants often synergize or otherwise enhance insect responses to sex pheromones. By these means, host plants may be used by insects to regulate or mediate sexual communication. For many species of insects, host plant influences on insect sex pheromone communication may be important aspects of the formation of feeding and mating aggregations, of insect strategies to locate both hosts and mates, of behavioral reproductive isolation among sibling species, and of the regulation of reproduction to coincide with the availability of food and oviposition sites. Knowledge of these relationships is critical to understanding many different areas of the behavioral ecology of plant-feeding insects.

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