Diel periodicity of 3-methyl-2-butenyl butyrate emissions by bronze bug males is suppressed in the presence of females.
The bronze bug, Thaumastocoris peregrinus Carpintero & Dellapé (Heteroptera: Thaumastocoridae), is an exotic emerging pest in Eucalyptus commercial forests in South America, Africa, and southern Europe. Information on the chemical communication system and reproductive ecology of this insect is scant, and it may be relevant for designing management strategies for eucalypt plantations. Males emit large amounts of 3-methyl-2-butenyl butyrate, which attracts conspecific adult males but not females. To learn more about the biological function of this putative male-produced pheromone, we quantified this compound in volatile emissions collected from males, females, and couples, in three 4-h collecting periods during the morning, afternoon, and night of a single 24-h cycle. Our results showed that virgin males emit 3-methyl-2-butenyl butyrate in a diel time pattern, with an almost sevenfold difference between the afternoon emission peak compared to morning or night hours. In addition, we show that in the presence of females, males emit the compound in the same amounts throughout the photocycle. While a definite function cannot yet be attributed to the emission of 3-methyl-2-butenyl butyrate by T. peregrinus males, our findings point to an intraspecific function, possibly one related to male-male competition.