Oviposition in Delia platura (Diptera, Anthomyiidae): The Role of Volatile and Contact Cues of Bean

  • Sandrine P. Gouinguené
  • Erich Städler


The choice of a suitable oviposition site by female insects is essential for survival of their progeny. Both olfactory and contact cues of the oviposition site may mediate this choice. The polyphagous Delia platura (Diptera: Anthomyiidae), a severe agricultural pest of numerous crops, lays eggs in the soil close to germinating seeds. Maggots feed upon the cotyledons. Only little is known about the cues guiding oviposition behavior. In this study, the effects of both olfactory and contact cues of beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) on oviposition of D. platura females were tested. Egg deposition on germinated beans was preferred to egg deposition on ungerminated beans or on beans in different postgerminating developmental stages. Olfactory cues of germinating beans alone stimulated female flies to lay eggs. Additional contact cues of germinating beans seemed to enhance the response, but the difference was not significant. Surface extracts of germinating beans sprayed on surrogate beans showed that both polar and nonpolar substances stimulated oviposition of D. platura flies. Gas chromatography-electroantennographic detection recordings of head space samples of germinating beans showed positive response of females to different compounds. We conclude that olfaction plays a major role when D. platura females are searching for oviposition sites. Volatile compounds released from germinating beans such as 4-hydroxy-4-methyl-2-pentanone, 1-hepten-3-one, 1-octen-3-ol, and 3-octanone should be considered as key compounds that mediate oviposition behavior. The use of different sensory modalities by closely related species of Delia is discussed.


Delia platura Meigen Diptera Anthomyiidae Phaseolus vulgaris Germinating bean surface extract Contact chemoperception Olfaction GC-EAD Oviposition 



This project was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, grant 31-65016.01. We thank Jay Whistlecraft of Agriculture Canada, Southern Crop Protection and Food Centre, London, Ontario, Canada, for providing us with D. platura pupae. Bruno Patrian, Agroscope FAW Wädenswil, Pflanzenschutz Chemie, Switzerland, helped with the separation of the nonpolar extract of germinating beans. We are grateful to Ted Turlings, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, for providing glass traps to collect volatiles of germinating beans. GC-MS analyses were done with the help of T. Turlings and M.-E. Farine, University of Neuchâtel. We wish to thank Dr. Russell Naisbit for English language assistance and useful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agroscope, FAW Wädenswil, SchlossWädenswilSwitzerland

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