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J Chem Ecol. 2004 Aug;30(8):1547-64.

Behavioral response of Lygus hesperus to conspecifics and headspace volatiles of alfalfa in a Y-tube olfactometer.

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  • 1Western Cotton Research Laboratory, USDA-ARS, 4135 E. Broadway Rd., Phoenix, Arizona 85040, USA.


The western tarnished plant bug, Lygus hesperus Knight, feeds and develops on a variety of weeds in the spring, with later generations moving to alfalfa and cotton where severe damage to reproductive structures can occur. A synthetic attractant for monitoring or mass-trapping L. hesperus, or the identification of potential attractants for natural enemies, would be useful tools for integrated pest management programs. Studies investigated the response of naive and experienced fifth-instar and adult L. hesperus to odors associated with conspecifics and alfalfa, Medicago sativa L. Fifth-instar L. hesperus responded to all plant/insect combinations, whereas female L. hesperus only responded preferentially to vegetative and flowering alfalfa where conspecifics had fed for 24-72 hr, and to vegetative alfalfa where conspecifics were added approximately 30 min before the test began. Males were not attracted to headspace volatiles from any of the alfalfa treatments. Analysis of headspace volatiles showed that (E)-2-hexanal, (Z)-3-hexen-l-ol, alpha-pinene, (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate, (E)-2-hexenyl acetate, limonene, (Z)-ocimene, (E)-beta-ocimene, linalool, (3E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, and (E, E)-alpha-farnesene are emitted from both vegetative and flowering alfalfa. Indole and (3E, 7E)-4,8,12-trimethyl-1,3,7,11-tridecatetraene were only detected in flowering alfalfa. Damage to alfalfa by L. hesperus increased emissions of (Z)-ocimene, (E)-beta-ocimene, (E)-beta-caryophyllene, and (E, E)-alpha-farnesene, while beta-pinene, myrcene, methyl salicylate, and (3E, 7E)-4,8,12-trimethyl-1,3,7,11-tridecatetraene were only detected from damaged plants. Thus, individual or mixtures of these alfalfa volatiles may be useful as attractants for capturing nymphs and adult females of L. hesperus in the field.

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