Discovery of the Attraction Chemical of the Asparagus Moth

Jim Crocker
21st May, 2024

Discovery of the Attraction Chemical of the Asparagus Moth

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study focused on the asparagus moth in southern Europe, a major pest for asparagus crops
  • Researchers identified four key pheromone compounds produced by female moths
  • A specific blend of three compounds was most effective in attracting male moths for pest control
The asparagus moth, Parahypopta caestrum, poses a significant threat to asparagus cultivations in southern Europe, necessitating effective pest management strategies. Researchers from the University of Foggia have recently undertaken a study to identify the sex pheromones produced by female asparagus moths, aiming to develop a more efficient monitoring and control method for this pest[1]. The study employed a combination of chemical analysis, electrophysiological testing, and field trapping experiments. Using gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry and electroantennogram detection (GC-MS-EAD), the researchers analyzed hexane and solid-phase microextraction (SPME) extracts from the sex pheromone glands of calling female moths. They identified four compounds that elicited strong electroantennogram (EAG) responses in male moth antennae: (Z)-9-tetradecenol (Z9-14:OH), (Z)-5-tetradecenyl acetate (Z5-14:Ac), (Z)-7-tetradecenyl acetate (Z7-14:Ac), and (Z)-9-tetradecenyl acetate (Z9-14:Ac). Further analysis revealed that these compounds were present in the headspace extracts from the abdominal tips of female moths in a specific ratio: 82% Z9-14:Ac, 9% Z5-14:Ac, 5% Z7-14:Ac, and 4% Z9-14:OH. Among these, Z9-14:Ac was found to be the most potent antennal stimulant in dose-response experiments. Field trapping experiments demonstrated that a blend of Z9-14:Ac, Z7-14:Ac, and Z5-14:Ac in an 85:5:10 ratio was significantly more effective in attracting male moths than any single compound or other combinations. Interestingly, the addition of Z9-14:OH to this optimal blend resulted in a significant reduction in male catches, indicating that Z9-14:OH may act as an inhibitory compound in this context. This study's findings align with and expand upon previous research on pheromone communication in moths. For instance, the cossid moth (Coryphodema tristis) also relies on a blend of pheromone compounds for effective male attraction, with Z9-14:OH and Z9-14:Ac playing crucial roles[2]. Similarly, the European goat moth (Cossus cossus) uses a blend of (Z)-5-dodecenyl acetate and (Z)-5-tetradecenyl acetate for male attraction, with specific ratios enhancing the effectiveness of the pheromone signal[3]. The results of the asparagus moth study provide a robust basis for developing targeted pest management strategies. The identified pheromone blend can be used to create effective lures for monitoring and controlling P. caestrum populations, thereby reducing the damage to asparagus crops. This approach is particularly valuable as it offers a species-specific, environmentally friendly alternative to broad-spectrum insecticides. In conclusion, the University of Foggia's research on the asparagus moth's sex pheromones has yielded critical insights that can be directly applied to pest management practices. By leveraging the specific pheromone blend identified in this study, farmers and agricultural professionals can more effectively monitor and control P. caestrum populations, safeguarding asparagus cultivations in southern Europe.

AgricultureBiochemAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Identification of the Sex Pheromone of the Asparagus Moth, Parahypopta Caestrum (Lepidoptera, Cossidae)

Published 20th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Identification of the sex pheromone of the tree infesting Cossid Moth Coryphodema tristis (Lepidoptera: Cossidae).

3) Sex pheromone components of the European goat moth,Cossus cossus.

Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙