Bulletin of entomological research

Prey sex pheromone as kairomone for a new group of predators (Coleoptera: Dasytidae, Aplocnemus spp.) of pine bast scales.

PMID 21284910


During the last decades, an increasing number of predators were found to use specific prey pheromones as chemical cues. Beyond its ecological relevance, this knowledge has practical applications on insect conservation and pest control. In this study, we present first evidence that two species of the family Dasytidae (Coleoptera) Aplocnemus brevis Rosenhauer and A. raymondi Sainte-Claire Deville use the sex pheromone of the pine bast scale Matsucoccus feytaudi Ducasse (Hemiptera: Matsucoccidae) as kairomone to locate this prey. The feeding habits and biology of Aplocnemus species are practically unknown. In the laboratory, the adults of Aplocnemus sp. accepted M. feytaudi egg masses as food source as well as other diets. Females represented more than 90% of Aplocnemus sp. attracted to the pheromone lures. We believe that females use this olfactory cue to locate suitable places for oviposition and that larvae are the predators of Matsucoccus. This study further demonstrates that the response to the kairomone elicited short prey searching times, about 23% of the individuals appeared less than 12 min after lure exposure, being consistent with the hypothesis of prey specialization. Habitat and geographical distribution predict an ancestral association of A. brevis with M. feytaudi and of A. raymondi with M. pini. Nevertheless, a recent prey shift of A. raymondi to the invasive M. feytaudi in Corsica is in progress.