Zea mays volatiles that influence oviposition and feeding behaviors of Spodoptera frugiperda.
Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is a major global pest of many crops, including maize (Zea mays). This insect is known to use host plant-derived volatile organic compounds to locate suitable hosts during both its adult and larval stages, yet the function of individual compounds remains mostly enigmatic. In this study, we use a combination of volatile profiling, electrophysiological assays, pair-wise choice behavioral assays, and chemical supplementation treatments to identify and assess specific compounds from maize that influence S. frugiperda host location. Our findings reveal that methyl salicylate and (E)-alpha-bergamotene are oviposition attractants for adult moths but do not impact larval behavior. While geranyl acetate can act as an oviposition attractant or repellent depending on the host volatile context and (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene (DMNT) is an oviposition deterrent. These compounds can also be attractive to the larvae when applied to specific maize inbreds. These data show that S. frugiperda uses different plant volatile cues for host location in its adult and larval stage and that the background volatile context that specific volatiles are perceived in, alters their impact as behavioral cues.