Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 327–338 | Cite as

Identification of Sex Pheromones and Sex Pheromone Mimics for Two North American Click Beetle Species (Coleoptera: Elateridae) in the Genus Cardiophorus Esch.

  • Jacqueline M. Serrano
  • R. Maxwell Collignon
  • Yunfan Zou
  • Jocelyn G. Millar


To date, all known or suspected pheromones of click beetles (Coleoptera: Elateridae) have been identified solely from species native to Europe and Asia; reports of identifications from North American species dating from the 1970s have since proven to be incorrect. While conducting bioassays of pheromones of a longhorned beetle (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae), we serendipitously discovered that males of Cardiophorus tenebrosus L. and Cardiophorus edwardsi Horn were specifically attracted to the cerambycid pheromone fuscumol acetate, (E)-6,10-dimethylundeca-5,9-dien-2-yl acetate, suggesting that this compound might also be a sex pheromone for the two Cardiophorus species. Further field bioassays and electrophysiological assays with the enantiomers of fuscumol acetate determined that males were specifically attracted by the (R)-enantiomer. However, subsequent analyses of extracts of volatiles from female C. tenebrosus and C. edwardsi showed that the females actually produced a different compound, which was identified as (3R,6E)-3,7,11-trimethyl-6,10-dodecadienoic acid methyl ester (methyl (3R,6E)-2,3-dihydrofarnesoate). In field trials, both the racemate and the (R)-enantiomer of the pheromone attracted similar numbers of male beetles, suggesting that the (S)-enantiomer was not interfering with responses to the insect-produced (R)-enantiomer. This report constitutes the first conclusive identification of sex pheromones for any North American click beetle species. Possible reasons for the strong and specific attraction of males to fuscumol acetate, which is markedly different in structure to the actual pheromone, are discussed.


Elateridae Pheromone mimic Click beetle (3R,6E)-3,7,11-Trimethyl-6,10-dodecadienoic acid methyl ester Methyl (3R,6E)-2,3-dihydrofarnesoate Fuscumol acetate 



We thank Stacy Hishinuma and Tom Coleman for providing access to field sites, and Sean Halloran and J. Steven McElfresh for assistance with laboratory and field work. We also thank Rochelle Hoey-Chamberlain and Eric Gordon for assistance with specimen imaging. This work was funded in part by financial support from the Robert van den Bosch Scholarship to JMS, and a UC Academic Senate research grant to JGM.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA
  2. 2.USDA-ARSDaniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research CenterHiloUSA
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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