Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 39, Issue 9, pp 1169–1181 | Cite as

Identification of Sex Pheromone Components of Blueberry Spanworm Itame argillacearia (Lepidoptera: Geometridae)

  • E. C. A. De Silva
  • P. J. Silk
  • P. Mayo
  • N. K. Hillier
  • D. Magee
  • G. C. CutlerEmail author


Blueberry spanworm, Itame argillacearia (Packard), is an important defoliator of lowbush (syn. ‘wild’) blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton, in north-eastern North America. The goal of the present study was to identify the female I. argillacearia sex pheromone, which could be used in traps for monitoring or mass-trapping this pest. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and electroantennogram (EAG) recordings of sex pheromone gland extracts, in combination with chemical synthesis, a Y-tube olfactometer study and field experiments confirmed (2R,3S)-2-ethyl-3-((Z,Z)-tridecadi-2,5-enyl) oxirane (hereafter (Z,Z)-(3R,4S)-3,4-epoxy-6,9-heptadecadiene) and (Z,Z,Z)-3,6,9-heptadecatriene as female-produced sex pheromone components. (Z,Z)-(3R,4S)-3,4-Epoxy-6,9-heptadecadiene elicited a response from male I. argillacearia antennae during EAG recording, and in the Y-tube olfactometer tests males did not discriminate between a live female and (Z,Z)-(3R,4S)-3,4-epoxy-6,9-heptadecadiene. Field-trapping experiments showed that a blend of (Z,Z)-(3R,4S)-3,4-epoxy-6,9-heptadecadiene and (Z,Z,Z)-3,6,9-heptadecatriene was more attractive to male moths than (Z,Z)-(3R,4S)-3,4-epoxy-6,9-heptadecadiene alone.


Itame argillacearia Ennominae Sex pheromones Vaccinium angustifolium (2R,3S)-2-ethyl-3-((Z,Z)-tridecadi-2,5-enyl) oxirane (Z,Z,Z)-3,6,9-heptadecatriene 



Financial support for this research was through a Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture Technology Development grant, in partnership with the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia, and through an Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency – Atlantic Innovation Fund. We thank Allysa Brewer and Jessica McConaghy for synthetic chemistry support. We also thank J. Sproule, K. Ramanaidu, M. M. Ayyanath and several summer research interns for technical assistance, Bragg Lumber Co. for granting access to their blueberry fields, and two anonymous reviewers and Dr. David Hall for their valuable comments on the manuscript. All experiments reported here comply with the laws of Canada.


  1. AAFC (2012) Statistical Overview of the Canadian Blueberry Industry, 2010. Market Analysis and Information Section, Horticulture and Special Crops Division, Agriculture and Agri-Food CanadaGoogle Scholar
  2. Alford AR, Diehl JR (1985) The periodicity of female calling in the blueberry spanworm, Itame argillacearia Pack. (Lepidoptera: Geometridae). Can Entomol 117:553–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blackmer JL, Rodriguez-Saona C, Byers JA, Shope KL, Byers JA, Shope KL, Smith JP (2004) Behavioral response of (Lygus hesperus) to conspecifics and headspace volatiles in a Y-tube olfactometer. J Chem Ecol 30:288–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boo KS, Chung IB, Han KS, Pickett JA, Wadha LJ (1998) Response of the lacewing (Chrysopa cognate) to pheromones of its aphid prey. J Chem Ecol 24:1333–1339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Butt BA, Cantu E (1962) Sex determination of lepidopterous pupae. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, ARS-33-75Google Scholar
  6. Cantelo WW, Jacobsen M, Hartstack AW (1982) Moth trap performance: Jackson trap vs. Texas pheromone trap. Southwest Entomol 7:212–215Google Scholar
  7. Cardé RT, Bell WJ (eds) (1995) Chemical ecology of insects. Chapman Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen L, Fadamiro HY (2007) Differential electroantennogram response of females and males of two parasitoid species to host-related green leaf volatiles and inducible compounds. Bull Entomol Res 97:515–522PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crozier L (1995) The Blueberry Spanworm. Lowbush Blueberry Fact Sheet. Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing, TruroGoogle Scholar
  10. Drummond FA, Groden E (2000) Evaluation of entomopathogens for biological control of insect pests of lowbush (wild) blueberry. Technical bulletin-172. University of Maine, Cooperative ExtensionGoogle Scholar
  11. Du Y, Guy M, Poppy, Wild P, John AP, Lester JW, Christine MW (1998) Identification of semiochemical released during aphid feeding that attract parasitoid (Aphidius ervi). J Chem Ecol 24:679–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dunkelblum E, Tan SH, Silk PJ (1985) Double bond location in mono-unsaturated fatty acids by dimethyldisulfide derivatization and mass spectrometry: application to analysis of fatty acids in pheromone glands of four Lepidoptera. J Chem Ecol 11:265–277Google Scholar
  13. Gibb AR, Comesky D, Berndt L, Brockerhoff EG, El-Sayed AM, Jactel H, Suckling DM (2006) Identification of sex pheromone components of a New Zealand geometrid moth, the common forest looper Pseudocoremia suavis, reveals a possible species complex. J Chem Ecol 32:865–879PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gries R, Gries G, Schaefer PW, Gotoh T, Higashiura Y (1999) Sex pheromone components of the pink gypsy moth, Lymantria mathura. Naturwissenschaften 86:235–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hillier NK (2001) Quantitative chemical ecology of the lingonberry fruitworm, Grapholita libertina Heinr. PhD dissertation. Memorial University, St. John’sGoogle Scholar
  16. Hillier NK, Dixon PL, Seabrook WD, Larson DJ (2002) Field testing of synthetic attractants for male Grapholita libertina (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Can Entomol 134:657–665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jutsum AR, Gordon RFS (eds) (1989) Insect pheromones in plant protection. John Wiley & Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Loreau O, Maret A, Poullain D, Chardigny JM, Sébédio JL, Beaufrère B, Noël JP (2000) Large-scale preparation of (9Z,12E)-[1-13C]-octadeca-9,12-dienoic acid, (9Z,12Z,15E)-[1-13C]-octadeca-9, 12, 15-trienoic acid and their [1-13C] all-cis isomers. Chem Phys Lipids 106:65–78PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Martin JS, Fredrik O, Tom EB, Anna N, Fredrik A, Eric H, Michael JL, Florian PS (2004) Identification, synthesis and activity of sex pheromone gland components of the autumn gum moth (Lepidoptera: Geometridae), a defoliator of Eucalyptus. Chemoecology 14:217–223Google Scholar
  20. McNeil JN (1991) Behavioral ecology of pheromone-mediated communication in moths and its importance in the use of pheromone traps. Annu Rev Entomol 36:407–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Millar JG (2000) Polyene hydrocarbons and epoxides: a second major class of lepidopteran sex attractant pheromones. Annu Rev Entomol 45:575–604PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Millar JG, Giblin M, Barton D, Morrison A, Underhill EW (1990) Synthesis and field testing of enantiomers of 6Z,9Z-cis-3,4-epoxydienes as sex attractants for geometrid moths, interactions of enantiomers and regioisomers. J Chem Ecol 16:2317–2339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Millar JG, Underhill EW (1986) Short synthesis of 1, 3Z, 6Z, 9Z-tetraene hydrocarbons. Lepidopteran sex attractants. Can J Chem 64:2427–2430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ramanaidu K, Hardman JM, Percival DC, Cutler GC (2011) Laboratory and field susceptibility of blueberry spanworm (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) to conventional and reduced-risk insecticides. Crop Prot 30:1643–1648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ryall K, Silk PJ, Wu J, Mayo P, Lemay MA, Magee D (2010) Sex pheromone chemistry and field trapping studies of the elm spanworm Ennomos subsignaria (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Geometridae). Naturwissenschaften 97:717–724PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. SAS (2001) SAS System for Windows (Version Release 9.1.2). SAS Institute, RaleighGoogle Scholar
  27. Silk PJ, Sweeney J, Wu J, Price J, Gutowski JM, Kettela EG (2007) Evidence for a male-produced pheromone in Tetropium fuscum (F.) and Tetropium cinnamopterum (Kirby) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Naturwissenschaften 94:697–701PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Turner JCL, Liburd OE (2007) Insect Management in Blueberries in the Eastern United States. Dept. of Entomology and Nematology, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Report No. ENY-411Google Scholar
  29. Wagner DL, Ferguson DC, Mccabe TL, Reardon RC (2001) Geometrid caterpillars of northeastern and Appalachian forests. Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Report No. FHTET-2001-10Google Scholar
  30. Witzgall P, Kirsch P, Cork A (2010) Sex pheromones and their impact on pest management. J Chem Ecol 36:80–100PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Yamamoto M, Kiso M, Yamazawa H, Takeuchi J, Ando T (2000) Identification of chiral sex pheromone secreted by giant geometrid moth, Biston robustum Butler. J Chem Ecol 26:2579–2590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Yang F-L, Zhu F, Lei C-L (2011) Insecticidal activities of garlic substances against adults of grain moth, Sitotroga cerealella (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). J Insect Sci 39:1–8Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. C. A. De Silva
    • 1
  • P. J. Silk
    • 2
  • P. Mayo
    • 2
  • N. K. Hillier
    • 3
  • D. Magee
    • 4
  • G. C. Cutler
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of AgricultureDalhousie UniversityTruroCanada
  2. 2.Natural Resources CanadaCanadian Forest Service-Atlantic Forestry CentreFrederictonCanada
  3. 3.Department of BiologyAcadia UniversityWolfvilleCanada
  4. 4.Department of ChemistryUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada

Personalised recommendations