Identification of Female Sex Pheromone for Monitoring the Barred Tooth Striped Moth, Trichopteryx polycommata, a Priority Conservation Species

Abstract

Pheromone-baited traps can be excellent tools for sensitive detection of insects of conservation concern. Here, identification of the sex pheromone of Trichopteryx polycommata (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775), an under-recorded UK priority species, is reported. In analyses of extracts of the pheromone glands of female T. polycommata by gas chromatography coupled to electroantennographic recording from the antenna of a male moth, a single active component was detected. This was identified as (Z,Z)-6,9-nonadecadiene (Z,Z6,9-19:H) by comparison of its mass spectrum and retention times with those of the synthetic standard. In a pilot field trial in Kent, UK, T. polycommata males were caught in pheromone traps baited with lures loaded with 1 mg and 2 mg (Z,Z)-6,9-19:H. Optimum lure loading was identified in a further five trials in Kent, Sussex and Lancashire where lures of 0, 0.001, 0.01, 0.1, 1, 2, 5 and 10 mg loadings were tested. Traps baited with 1 to 10 mg of ZZ6,9-19:H caught significantly more T. polycommata than traps baited with 0 mg and 0.001 mg. In a pilot survey of T. polycommata using pheromone lures around Morecambe Bay, UK, T. polycommata males were captured at 122 new sites within the three counties where trials took place, demonstrating the potential of pheromone monitoring to increase knowledge of abundance, distribution and ecology of this elusive species.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Butterfly Conservation UK for recruiting field recorders and helping to coordinate distribution of lures. We would particularly like to thank Tony Davis for obtaining insect material, Martin Wain, Liz Davidson the numerous field recorders who volunteered to help with survey work in Morecambe Bay and Lancashire, and Colin Whiteman and for his help in Sussex trials. Thanks also go to the landowners who allowed access to their property in aid of insect conservation research, and Canterbury Christ Church University for funding the field research.

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Correspondence to Joseph P. J. Burman.

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Oleander, A., Hall, D.R., Bray, D.P. et al. Identification of Female Sex Pheromone for Monitoring the Barred Tooth Striped Moth, Trichopteryx polycommata, a Priority Conservation Species. J Chem Ecol 45, 649–656 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10886-019-01093-1

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Keywords

  • (Z,Z)-6,9-nonadecadiene
  • Electroantennography
  • Insect conservation
  • Lure
  • Detection of endangered species
  • Biodiversity
  • Mapping indicator species
  • Live-catching pheromone traps