Geographic variation in pheromone component ratio and antennal responses, but not in attraction, to sex pheromones among fall armyworm populations infesting corn in Mexico.
The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), is one of the most important pests of corn in Latin America. This insect presents two strains with behavioural and genetic differences. In Mexico, both strains are present, and at least two different FAW populations have been reported within the corn-strain. The objective of this study was to gather evidence of whether pheromonal communication varies among different S. frugiperda populations infesting corn in Mexico. First, we investigated any qualitative or quantitative difference in the composition of sex pheromones among populations; second, we studied whether male antennal responses to pheromone components vary among populations; and, finally, we investigated whether males from a region can discriminate between a synthetic pheromone blend characteristic of their region and blends formulated with the ratio of pheromone compounds emitted by females from other populations. Sex pheromone components were sampled by solid-phase microextraction and identified by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Females from all populations consistently released three compounds: (Z)-9-tetradecenyl acetate (Z9-14:OAc), (Z)-11-hexadecenyl acetate (Z11-16:OAc) and (Z)-7-dodecenyl acetate (Z7-12:OAc). Our results showed that Z9-14:OAc and Z7-12:OAc evoked the highest and most variable antennal responses among the populations studied compared to Z11-16:OAc. However, males did not discriminate between local pheromone blends and those formulated from other populations in a field test. These results show that although there is geographic variation in the ratio of pheromone components and in the peripheral reception of them, males were not differentially attracted to different pheromone blends in the field.