Evidence for a Male Sex Pheromone in the Noctuid, Trichoplusia ni

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THE hairpencils of several male Lepidoptera secrete volatile substances1–8. Aplin and Birch1 reported that the scent-brushes of some noctuids contain benzaldehyde as their chief component and they suggested that this substance might function as an aphrodisiac because the brushes were displayed during courtship, but they gave no evidence that the compound was olfactorily or otherwise stimulating to the insect. Recent electrophysiological experiments6, however, have demonstrated that the hairpencil substances of the male queen butterfly are detected by the female antenna and behavioural studies5,8 have shown them to function as a female aphrodisiac. This report provides evidence that the hairpencils of the male cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni, produce a volatile secretion which probably stimulates the female during courtship.

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GRANT, G. Evidence for a Male Sex Pheromone in the Noctuid, Trichoplusia ni. Nature 227, 1345–1346 (1970) doi:10.1038/2271345a0

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