Journal of chemical ecology

Specialist leaf beetle larvae use volatiles from willow leaves infested by conspecifics for reaggregation in a tree.

PMID 20544261


Young, gregariously living larvae of the willow leaf beetles Plagiodera versicolora are known to exhibit characteristic aggregation-dispersion-reaggregation behavior and local fidelity to a host tree. In this study, we investigated whether plant volatiles induced by feeding P. versicolora larvae were involved in the reaggregation behavior. Under laboratory conditions, we conducted dual-choice bioassays and found that the first and second instars discriminated between volatiles from leaves infested by larvae and volatiles from uninfested leaves. The discriminative behavior was dependent on both the time leaves were infested and the age of discriminating larvae. First and second instars preferred odor from 1-d-infested leaves to odor from uninfested leaves, whereas third instars (solitary stage) did not discriminate between these volatile blends. Odor from 2-d-infested leaves was preferred to odor from 1-d-infested leaves by first instars, whereas odor from leaves infested for 3 d was not attractive to these very young larvae. Neither was odor of leaves infested for 1 d and then left uninfested for 1 or 2 d attractive to young larvae. The data suggest that the first and second instars use volatiles from a leaf newly infested by conspecific larvae as one of the reaggregation cues. We detected several herbivore-induced compounds in the headspace of the attractive leaves. Among those, a mixture of synthetic (E)-beta-ocimene, (Z)-beta-ocimene, allo-ocimene, and linalool was found to attract the larvae.

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Ocimene, mixture of isomers, stabilized, ≥90%