Variable responses by southern pine beetle, Dendroctonus frontalis Zimmermann, to the pheromone component endo-Brevicomin: influence of enantiomeric composition, release rate, and proximity to infestations
The male-produced bicyclic acetal endo-brevicomin is a component of the pheromone blend that mediates colonization of host pines by the bark beetle Dendroctonus frontalis Zimmermann. Efforts to identify its behavioral function have been complicated by contrasting reports that it either enhances or reduces attraction of flying beetles. Our studies failed to support the hypothesis that this published variability is due to differences in release rate and/or the enantiomeric composition [i.e., the beetle-produced (+)- enantiomer vs. the racemate] of the endo-brevicomin used in the experiments. In trapping trials within active D. frontalis infestations, racemic and (+)-endo-brevicomin did not differ from each other in behavioral effects when tested at seven different release rates ranging from 0.005 to 3 mg/d. At the highest release rates, racemic and (+)-endo-brevicomin similarly reduced catches in traps baited with an attractant (frontalin and turpentine), but neither enhanced catches at any release rate. Furthermore, the activity of racemic endo-brevicomin baits depended on trap proximity to D. frontalis infestations. Addition of these baits to attractant-baited traps located inside active infestations reduced catches, but they enhanced catches at traps located either 100 or 200 m outside these infestations. The contrasting responses may reflect differences in hostseeking strategies by either aggregated or dispersing D. frontalis, and may be elicited by differing abundance of natural sources of semiochemicals or differing responsiveness of beetles inside vs. outside of infestations. We suspect that much of the published variability in D. frontalis responses to endo-brevicomin is attributable to differing proximity of experimental field sites to infestations.