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PloS one

Sexual communication in castniid moths: Males mark their territories and appear to bear all chemical burden.


PMID 28178286

Abstract

Castniid moths (Lepidoptera: Castniidae) display a butterfly-like reproductive behavior, i.e., they use visual stimuli for mate location and females have apparently lost their pheromone glands in an evolutionary context. In this paper we report for the first time the identification of three new compounds, namely n-octadecyl acetate, (Z)-9-octadecenyl acetate and (E,Z)-2,13-octadecadienyl acetate, in males of the Castniid Palm Borer, Paysandisia archon, which could be involved in its short-range courtship behavior, and also shed light on recent controversies on the sexual behavior of the species. The compounds are produced in a ring-shaped gland of the male terminalia and have occasionally been detected in very minor amounts (ng) in ovipositor extracts of females, but only while mating or just after copulation. We also report that males use the already known (E,Z)-2,13-octadecadienol to mark their territory by rubbing their midlegs against the upper side of nearby leaves, especially palm leaves. This compound, produced in large amounts, is mostly concentrated in the midleg basitarsi and its maximum production is detected on the sexually mature 1-day-old specimens. In addition, analysis of male wings extracts confirms the presence of Z,E and E,E-farnesals, which are mostly produced in the median band of hindwings of 48-53 h-old insects. The biological significance of farnesals in this species is unknown. Our results point out that the chemical communication of P. archon relies mostly on males, which appear to bear all chemical burden in this respect.