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Nocturnal Plant Bugs Use cis-Jasmone to Locate Inflorescences of an Araceae as Feeding and Mating Site

Etl, Florian, Berger, Andreas, Weber, Anton, Schönenberger, Jürg, Dötterl, Stefan
Journal of chemical ecology 2016 v.42 no.4 pp. 300-304
Dermaptera, Dieffenbachia, Diptera, Miridae, Scarabaeidae, arthropods, bioassays, breeding sites, copulation, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, host plants, inflorescences, insects, odors, pollination, pollinators, tropics
Inflorescences of Araceae pollinated by cyclocephaline scarab beetles are visited frequently by a wide array of other arthropods that exploit floral resources without taking part in pollination, including earwigs, flies, and true bugs. To date, nothing is known about the cues these insect visitors use to locate the inflorescences and whether or to what extent floral scents play a role. An aroid visited by large numbers of plant bugs (Miridae) in addition to cyclocephaline scarab beetle pollinators is the Neotropical species Dieffenbachia aurantiaca. We identified the plant bug species and investigated their behavior and arrival time on the inflorescences. To test the importance of olfactory cues in locating their host we conducted experiments with open and gauze-bagged inflorescences as well as natural scent samples of D. aurantiaca. Inflorescence scents were analyzed by gas chromatography linked to mass spectrometry (GC/MS), and the attractive potential of the main scent compound was determined by behavioral assays. Three species of Neella, the most common one being N. floridula, visited the inflorescences at nightfall, shortly after the beginning of scent emission, and showed feeding and copulation activity. Bagged inflorescences as well as natural scent samples attracted similar numbers of plant bugs as the non-bagged inflorescences, showing that olfactory cues are sufficient for them to locate their host. Cis-jasmone was the major component within the inflorescence scent bouquet. In two-choice field bioassays, this compound proved to be highly attractive to Neella, and thus obviously plays a key role in finding host plants.