Mate finding via a trail sex pheromone by Aphytis melinus DeBach (Hymenoptera : Aphelinidae) males Academic Article uri icon


  • Finding mates is frequently problematic for parasitoid wasps. In some parasitoid species, males rely on volatile, airborne sex pheromones for locating mates, while in others they rely on contact, trail sex pheromones. This study sought to shed light on the mate finding mechanism of males of Aphytis melinus. Specifically, the goal was to determine whether A. melinus males use airborne or contact pheromones, or both, for locating mates. The study showed that A. melinus males rely on a contact, trail sex pheromone for locating mates: A. melinus males responded to substrate-borne cues left by virgin females, while they did not respond to airborne cues from virgin females. Specifically, males more frequently encountered virgin females when the females walked across an arena to a fixed encounter point compared to when they were manually placed at the encounter point, and spent greater than expected time on surfaces previously visited by virgin females compared to control surfaces not visited by females. In contrast, males did not respond to airborne cues from virgin females in an airflow olfactometer nor to traps baited with virgin females in the field, and spent similar lengths of time on surfaces visited by newly-mated or 24-h mated females versus control surfaces not visited by females. The main effect of the trail sex pheromone on the behavior of A. melinus males was to direct their search and, so, increase the likelihood of encountering mates. This effect apparently is not preceded by longer-range attraction of males via an airborne female sex pheromone. Overall, the results of this study support a hypothesis in which A. melinus males searching on substrates on which females may be present rely exclusively on a trail sex pheromone to locate mates. 2007 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Bernal, J. S., & Luck, R. F.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Bernal, Julio S||Luck, Robert F

publication date

  • November 2007