The purpose of this study was to identify plant volatiles that provide host location cues for adult females of the gall wasp Antistrophus rufus Gillette (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae). Larvae of this species inhabit flowering stems of the prairie perennial Silphium laciniatum L. (Asteraceae). Adult females responded to volatile compounds emitted by stems of S. laciniatum in field olfactometer bioassays. Plant volatiles were monoterpenes, including, in descending order of abundance, racemic α- and β-pinene (∼50 % "+" enantiomer for both), (+)-limonene, (-)-camphene, and β-myrcene. In laboratory bioassays, females responded to aeration extracts of plant stems, the full blend of synthetic monoterpenes, and the four-component blend of α-pinene, β-pinene, (+)-limonene, and (-)-camphene. This monoterpene blend apparently serves as an olfactory cue for host plant location for female A. rufus and is the first such cue to be reported for a cynipid gall wasp. Species-specific ratios of plant monoterpenes may provide cues for gall wasp females to distinguish between plant species and choose appropriate hosts for oviposition. The olfactometer and bioassay techniques developed for this research may be useful for field bioassays of other types of minute arthropods.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics