Volatile and Contact Chemical Cues Associated with Host and Mate Recognition Behavior of Sphenophorus venatus and Sphenophorus parvulus (Coleoptera: Dryophthoridae)

  • Alexandra G. Duffy
  • Gabriel P. Hughes
  • Matthew D. Ginzel
  • Douglas S. Richmond
Article

Abstract

Beetles in the genus Sphenophorus Schönherr, or billbugs, potentially utilize both volatile and non-volatile behavior-modifying chemical signals. These insects are widely distributed across North America, often occurring in multi-species assemblages in grasses. However, details about their host- and mate-finding behavior are poorly understood. This study tested the hypothesis that volatile organic compounds from host-plants and conspecifics direct the dispersal behavior of hunting billbug S. venatus Say. Further, we characterized the cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of two widespread pest species, S. venatus and bluegrass billbug S. parvulus Gyllenhaal, to assess the potential role of contact pheromones in mate-recognition. In Y-tube olfactometer bioassays, S. venatus males were attracted to a combination of conspecifics and Cynodon dactylon host-plant material, as well as C. dactylon plant material alone. S. venatus females were attracted to a combination of male conspecifics and host-plants but were also attracted to male conspecifics alone. Field evaluation of a putative male-produced aggregation pheromone, 2-methyl-4-octanol, identified from two congeners, S. levis Vaurie and S. incurrens Gyllenhaal, did not support the hypothesis that S. venatus and S. parvulus were also attracted to this compound. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis of S. venatus and S. parvulus whole-body cuticular extracts indicated a series of hydrocarbons with qualitative and quantitative interspecific variation in addition to intraspecific quantitative variation between males and females. This study provides the first evidence that S. venatus orients toward host- and insect-derived volatile organic compounds and substantiates the presence of species-specific cuticular hydrocarbons that could serve as contact pheromones for sympatric Sphenophorus species.

Keywords

Hunting billbug Turfgrass Olfactometry Pheromones Cuticular hydrocarbons 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Danielle Craig, Matthew Ethington, and Garrett Price for field and laboratory assistance. We are grateful for the cooperation of Dr. Ian Kaplan’s lab group, especially Ulianova Vidal Gómez, while conducting the olfactometry bioassays. Brad Coole and Jeff Sexton (Rolling Hills Country Club), Brian Bornino (Purdue Sports Turf), and Glenn Hardebeck and Aaron Kreider (William H. Daniel Turfgrass Research and Diagnostic Center) provided insect collecting sites. We appreciate Dr. Paulo Henrique G. Zarbin (Universidade Federal do Paraná) for providing the synthetic pheromone lure. We thank Dr. Gary Blomquist (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Nevada, Reno) for assisting with the identification of cuticular hydrocarbons. Lastly, we thank Dr. Gary Felton, Dr. David Robert Hall, Dr. Ben McGraw, and one anonymous reviewer for their helpful suggestions that improved the quality of this manuscript. This research was conducted in partial fulfillment of a M.Sc. degree for A.G. Duffy from Purdue University and funding was provided by the United States Golf Association (2015-10-525).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandra G. Duffy
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gabriel P. Hughes
    • 1
    • 3
  • Matthew D. Ginzel
    • 1
  • Douglas S. Richmond
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  3. 3.Department of EntomologyUniversity of California-RiversideRiversideUSA

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