Calling Behavior and Sex Pheromone Release and Storage in the Moth Chloridea virescens
Female moths release sex pheromone to attract mates. In most species, sex pheromone is produced in, and released from, a specific gland. In a previous study, we used empirical data and compartmental modeling to account for the major pheromone gland processes of female Chloridea virescens: synthesis, storage, catabolism and release; we found that females released little (20–30%) of their pheromone, with most catabolized. The recent publication of a new pheromone collection method led us to reinvestigate pheromone release and catabolism in C. virescens on the basis that our original study might have underestimated release rate (thereby overestimating catabolism) due to methodology and females not calling (releasing) continuously. Further we wished to compare pheromone storage/catabolism between calling and non-calling females. First, we observed calling intermittency of females. Then, using decapitated females, we used the new collection method, along with compartmental modeling, gland sampling and stable isotope labeling, to determine differences in pheromone release, catabolism and storage between (forced) simulated calling and non-calling females. We found, (i) intact 1 d females call intermittently; (ii) pheromone is released at a higher rate than previously determined, with simulations estimating that continuously calling females release ca. 70% of their pheromone (only 30% catabolized); (iii) extension (calling)/retraction of the ovipositor is a highly effective “on/off’ mechanism for release; (iv) both calling and non-calling females store most pheromone on or near the gland surface, but calling females catabolize less pheromone; (v) females are capable of producing and releasing pheromone very rapidly. Thus, not only is the moth pheromone gland efficient, in terms of the proportion of pheromone released Vs. catabolized, but it is highly effective at shutting on/off a high flux of pheromone for release.
Journal of Chemical Ecology, Springer