Canadian Forest Service Publications

A tetraene aldehyde as the major sex pheromone component of the Promethea Moth (Callosamia promethea(Drury)). 2013. Gago, R.; Allison, J.D.; McElfresh, J.S.; McKenney, J.; Geurrero,A.; Millar, J.G. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 39(10):1263-1272.

Year: 2013

Available from: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35615

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Abstract

The promethea moth Callosamia promethea is one of three species of silkmoths from the genus Callosamia that occur in North America. Cross attraction of males to heterospecific calling females has been observed in the field, and hybrid progeny have been produced by pairing heterospecifics in captivity. These observations suggest that all three species share or have considerable overlap in the sex attractant pheromones produced by females, so that other prezygotic isolating mechanisms, such as diel differences in reproductive activity, limit hybridization in the field. Coupled gas chromatography-electroantennogram detection and gas chromatography- mass-spectrometry analyses of extracts of volatiles collected from female promethea moths supported the identification of (4E,6E,11Z,13Z)-hexadeca-4,6,11,13-tetraenal [(4E,6E,11Z,13Z)-16:Ald] as the compound in extracts that elicited the largest responses from antennae of males. The identification was confirmed by non-selective synthesis of several isomers as analytical standards, and stereoselective synthesis of (4E,6E,11Z,13Z)-16:Ald for testing in field trials. Male moths were strongly attracted to synthetic (4E,6E,11Z,13Z)-16:Ald, suggesting that this compound is the major and possibly the only component of the sex pheromone of these large saturniid moths. Based on the cross-attraction of heterospecifics, it is likely that this is also a major pheromone component of the other two North American Callosamia species as well.

Plain Language Summary

The promethea moth Callosamia promethea is one of three species of silkmoths from the genus Callosami that occurs in North America. We used gas chromatography techniques to identify the compounds produced by female promethea moths that elicited the largest responses from antennae of males. These pheromones are powerful, species-specific attractants that play a crucial role in mate-location and recognition. They can be valuable tools for sampling potentially threatened species and low-density populations.

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