Arthropod-Plant Interactions

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 139–149 | Cite as

A simple approach to evaluate behavioral responses of insect herbivores to olfactory and visual cues simultaneously: the double stacked y-tube device and portable volatile collection system

  • Ikju ParkEmail author
  • Mark Schwarzländer
  • Hariet L. Hinz
  • Urs Schaffner
  • Sanford D. Eigenbrode
Original Paper


Insect herbivores use olfactory and visual cues during host plant finding. Although insect responses to these cues typically are assessed separately, in nature herbivores respond to olfactory and visual cues simultaneously. We demonstrate the functionality of a “double-stacked y-tube device” (D-SYD) to measure bioassay responses of a specialist herbivore to olfactory and visual cues of potential host plants either presented individually or in combination. We tested the ability of the Eurasian specialist seed-feeding weevil, Mogulones borraginis, to distinguish between its Eurasian host, Cynoglossum officinale, which is invasive in North America, and a closely related confamilial native North American non-target, Andersonglossum occidentale. Weevils distinguished C. officinale from A. occidentale based on olfactory and visual cues. When olfactory and visual cues were offered simultaneously, weevils preferentially selected C. officinale more strongly and more rapidly than when either single cue was offered. When olfactory and visual cues were mismatched, weevils were no longer able to discriminate between the plant species and exhibited longer response times. There were no differences in behavioral responses to floral scents from greenhouse-propagated plants and those collected from plants in the field using a portable volatile collection system (PVCS). The bioassay approach demonstrated here using D-SYD and PVCS can assess behavioral responses of insects to olfactory and visual plant cues alone or together and measure their relative contributions to host discrimination. This will have utility for theoretical and applied questions concerning the host selection behavior of insect herbivores.


Host selection behavior Mogulones borraginis Cynoglossum officinale Dual modality Bioassay Bimodal cue 



We would like to thank Bradley Harmon for his assistance with laboratory and field work. We thank Stephen Cook and two anonymous reviewers for greatly improving earlier versions of this manuscript and Bill Price for his assistance with statistical analyses. This research was financially supported by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (Coop. Agreement 10-CA-1142002 to MS), the United States Department of Agriculture APHIS CPHST (Agreement 12-8130-1447-CA to MS), and the United States Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management (CESU Agreement HAA0807402 to MS). Hariet Hinz and Urs Schaffner were supported by CABI with core financial support from its member countries (see We would especially like to thank Richard Reardon, Carol Randall, Joey Milan, and the late Richard Hansen for their past and continued support, without which this research would not have been possible. This is a publication of the Idaho Agricultural Experimental Station.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and NematologyUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA
  2. 2.CABIDelémontSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology, and Weed ScienceNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA

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