The legume podborer, Maruca vitrata (syn. M. testulalis) (F.) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) is a pantropical pest of legume crops. Sex pheromone was collected by gland extraction or trapping of volatiles from virgin female moths originating in India, West Africa, or Taiwan. Analysis by GC-EAG and GC-MS confirmed previously published findings that (E,E)-10,12- hexadecadienal is the most abundant EAG-active component with 2–5% of (E,E)-10,12-hexadecadienol also present. At least one other EAG response was detected at retention times typical of monounsaturated hexadecenals or tetradecenyl acetates, but neither could be detected by GC-MS. Laboratory wind-tunnel bioassays and a field bioassay of blends of (E,E)-10,12-hexadecadienal with (E,E)-10,12-hexadecadienol and a range of monounsaturated hexadecenal and tetradecenyl acetate isomers indicated greatest attraction of males was to those including (E,E)-10,12-hexadecadienol and (E)-10-hexadecenal as minor components. In subsequent trapping experiments in cowpea fields in Benin, traps baited with a three-component blend of (E,E)-10,12-hexadecadienal and these two minor components in a 100:5:5 ratio caught significantly more males than traps baited with the major component alone, either two-component blend, or virgin female moths. Further blend optimization experiments did not produce a more attractive blend. No significant differences in catches were found between traps baited with polyethylene vials or rubber septa, or between lures containing 0.01 and 0.1 mg of synthetic pheromone. Significant numbers of female M. vitrata moths, up to 50% of total catches, were trapped with synthetic blends but not with virgin females. At present there is no clear explanation for this almost unprecedented finding, but the phenomenon may improve the predictive power of traps for population monitoring.
Journal of Chemical Ecology (2003) 29 (4) 989-1011 [DOI: 10.1023/A:1022996103147]