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Analysis and Manipulation of the Structure of Odor Plumes from a Piezo-Electric Release System and Measurements of Upwind Flight of Male Almond Moths, Cadra cautella, to Pheromone Plumes

Girling, Robbie D., Cardé, Ring T.
Journal of chemical ecology 2007 v.33 no.10 pp. 1927-1945
Cadra cautella, sex pheromones, ethanol, odors, sprayers, detectors, chemical concentration, males, mating behavior, insect flight, smell, wind tunnels
We investigated the plume structure of a piezo-electric sprayer system, set up to release ethanol in a wind tunnel, using a fast response mini-photoionizaton detector. We recorded the plume structure of four different piezo-sprayer configurations: the sprayer alone; with a 1.6-mm steel mesh shield; with a 3.2-mm steel mesh shield; and with a 5 cm circular upwind baffle. We measured a 12 x 12-mm core at the center of the plume, and both a horizontal and vertical cross-section of the plume, all at 100-, 200-, and 400-mm downwind of the odor source. Significant differences in plume structure were found among all configurations in terms of conditional relative mean concentration, intermittency, ratio of peak concentration to conditional mean concentration, and cross-sectional area of the plume. We then measured the flight responses of the almond moth, Cadra cautella, to odor plumes generated with the sprayer alone, and with the upwind baffle piezo-sprayer configuration, releasing a 13:1 ratio of (9Z,12E)-tetradecadienyl acetate and (Z)-9-tetradecenyl acetate diluted in ethanol at release rates of 1, 10, 100, and 1,000 pg/min. For each configuration, differences in pheromone release rate resulted in significant differences in the proportions of moths performing oriented flight and landing behaviors. Additionally, there were apparent differences in the moths' behaviors between the two sprayer configurations, although this requires confirmation with further experiments. This study provides evidence that both pheromone concentration and plume structure affect moth orientation behavior and demonstrates that care is needed when setting up experiments that use a piezo-electric release system to ensure the optimal conditions for behavioral observations.