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Hero turned villain: Identification of components of the sex pheromone of the tomato bug, Nesidiocoris tenuis

Hero turned villain: Identification of components of the sex pheromone of the tomato bug, Nesidiocoris tenuis

Hall, David R. ORCID: 0000-0002-7887-466X, Harte, Steven J. ORCID: 0000-0001-9628-7912, Bray, Daniel P., Farman, Dudley I. ORCID: 0000-0003-3579-3672, James, Rob, Silva, Celine X. and Fountain, Michelle T. (2021) Hero turned villain: Identification of components of the sex pheromone of the tomato bug, Nesidiocoris tenuis. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 47. pp. 394-405. ISSN 0098-0331 (Print), 1573-1561 (Online) (doi:

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Nesidiocoris tenuis (Reuter) (Heteroptera: Miridae) is a tropical mirid bug used as a biocontrol agent in protected crops, including tomatoes. Although N. tenuis predates important insect pests, especially whitefly, it also causes damage by feeding on tomato plants when prey populations decline, resulting in significant economic losses for growers. The pest is now established in some all-year-round tomato crops in Europe and control measures involve the application of pesticides which are incompatible with current IPM programs. As part of future IPM strategies, the pheromone of N. tenuis was investigated. Volatile collections were made from groups and individuals of mated and unmated, females and males. In analyses of these collections by gas chromatography coupled with electroantennographic (EAG) recording from antennae of male bugs, two EAG-active components were detected and identified as 1-octanol and octyl hexanoate. Unlike other mirids, both male and female N. tenuis produced the two compounds, before and after mating, and both sexes gave EAG responses to both compounds. Furthermore, only octyl hexanoate was detected in whole body solvent washes from both sexes. These compounds are not related to the derivatives of 3-hydroxybutyrate esters found as pheromone components in other members of the Bryocrinae sub-family, and the latter could not be detected in volatiles from N. tenuis and did not elicit EAG responses. Nevertheless, experiments carried out in commercial glasshouses showed that traps baited with a blend of the synthetic pheromone components caught essentially only male N. tenuis, and significantly more than traps baited with octyl hexanoate alone. The latter caught significantly more N. tenuis than unbaited traps which generally caught very few bugs. Traps at plant height caught more N. tenuis males than traps 1 m above or at the base of the plants. The trap catches provided an indication of population levels of N. tenuis and were greatly reduced following an application of insecticide.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Uncontrolled Keywords: Pheromone, Nesidiocoris tenuis, trap, tomato, insect pest
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Last Modified: 23 May 2021 23:10

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