Female-produced sex pheromone of Tetrastichus planipennisi, a parasitoid introduced for biological control of the invasive emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis.
The Asian eulophid wasp Tetrastichus planipennisi is being released in North America as a biocontrol agent for the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), a very destructive invasive buprestid beetle that is devastating ash trees (Fraxinus spp.). We identified, synthesized, and tested a female-produced sex pheromone for the wasp. The key component eliciting behavioral responses from male wasps in flight tunnel bioassays was identified as (6S,10S)-(2E,4E,8E)-4,6,8,10-tetramethyltrideca-2,4,8-triene. Female specificity was demonstrated by gas chromatographic (GC) comparison of male and female volatile emissions and whole body extracts. The identification was aided by coupled gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis, microchemical reactions, NMR, GC analyses with a chiral stationary phase column, and matching GC retention times and mass spectra with those of synthetic standards. The tetramethyl-triene hydrocarbon was synthesized as a mixture of two enantiomeric pairs of diastereomers, and as the pure insect-produced stereoisomer. In flight-tunnel bioassays, males responded to both the natural pheromone and the chiral synthetic material by upwind flight and landing on the source. In contrast, the mixture of four stereoisomers was not attractive, indicating that one or more of the unnatural stereoisomers antagonized attraction. Field trials, using yellow pan traps baited with natural pheromone, captured significantly more male wasps than control traps over a four week trial. The identified pheromone could increase the efficiency and specificity of the current detection methods for Tetrastichus planipennisi and aid in the determination of parasitoid establishment at release sites.