Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 51–54 | Cite as

Flight Tunnel Response of Male European Corn Borer Moths to Cross-Specific Mixtures of European and Asian Corn Borer Sex Pheromones: Evidence Supporting a Critical Stage in Evolution of a New Communication System

  • Nathan Martin
  • Kevin Moore
  • Callie J. Musto
  • Charles E. LinnJr


Previous flight tunnel studies showed that 3–5 % of male European corn borer (ECB) moths, Ostrinia nubilalis, could fly upwind and make contact with sources releasing the sex pheromone of the closely related Asian corn borer (ACB), Ostrina furnacalis, [2:1 (Z)-12-tetradecenyl acetate (Z12-14:OAc) : (E)-12-teradecenyl acetate (E12-14:OAc)] and that 2–4 % of ACB males could similarly fly upwind to the sex pheromone blends of the ECB Z- [97:3 (Z)-tetradecenyl acetate (Z11-14:OAc) : (E)-tetradecenyl acetate (E11-14:Ac)] and E-strains (1:99 Z/E11-14:OAc) pheromones. The results supported the hypothesis that the evolution of the ACB pheromone system from an ECB-like ancestor included a stage in which males could be attracted to the unusual females emitting Z12- and E12-14:OAc while retaining their responsiveness to the ancestral pheromone blend of Z11- and E11-14:OAc. Here, we showed further that ECB E-strain males exhibited upwind oriented flight and source contacts to sources containing all combinations of ECB and ACB components. Maximal response levels were observed with the E-strain 99:1 E11/Z11-14:OAc blend, and high response levels also were observed with two other blends containing E11-14:OAc as the major component (E11:E12 and E11:Z12). Upwind flight and source contact also occurred at lower levels with the remaining blend combinations in which Z11-, E12-, or Z12-14:OAc was the major component. Our current results support the hypothesis concerning the evolution of ACB from an ECB-like ancester by showing that males were able to respond to females producing either the 12–14:Ac isomers, 11–14:Ac isomers, or even mixtures of all four components


Flight tunnel Mating behavior Pheromone response specificity Sex pheromone 



We thank Kathy Poole and Paula Fox for help in maintaining the moth colony. Nathan Martin and Kevin Moore were undergraduates at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY participating in a Summer Scholars Program supported by funding from the David and Brenda Rickey Foundation. We also thank Tom Baker and Kevin Wanner for valuable comments on the manuscript, and Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris for advice on the statistical tests. The research was supported by the USDA AFRI program, #2009-0987-01.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan Martin
    • 1
  • Kevin Moore
    • 1
  • Callie J. Musto
    • 2
  • Charles E. LinnJr
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyHobart and William Smith CollegesGenevaUSA
  2. 2.Entomology Department, NYS Agricultural Experiment StationCornell UniversityGenevaUSA

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