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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Identification and Synthesis of Putative Pheromone Components of the Threatened Salt Marsh Bagworm Moth, Whittleia retiella (Lepidoptera: Psychidae)

Rahmani, Rizan; Carrasco, David; Svensson, Glenn P.; Roweck, Hartmut; Ryrholm, Nils; Larsson, Mattias C.; Hedenstrom, Erik


Whittleia retiella (Newman, 1847) is a threatened salt marsh species of the bagworm moth family Psychidae. For its preservation it is necessary to develop efficient tools to survey its distribution and habitat requirements in order to use appropriate conservation methods. Such tools may be pheromone-based monitoring systems, which have documented efficacy in establishing the occurrence of cryptic insect species in nature. By using gas chromatography combined with electroantennographic detection (GC-EAD), we found two compounds in female W. retiella headspace samples and whole-body extracts that elicited electrophysiological activity in male antennae. Gas chromatograpy coupled with mass spectrometry (GC-MS) operating in electron impact (EI) mode and comparison of the analytical data with those of synthetic reference compounds showed the chemical structures of these putative pheromone components to be (1S)-1-methylpropyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate and 1-methylethyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate. Field assays using baits loaded with synthetic compounds revealed that conspecific males were attracted to (1S)-1-methylpropyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate alone or in combination with 1-methylethyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate, whereas 1-methylethyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate neither attracted nor repelled males in the field assays when tested alone. This study shows the potential of using (1S)-1-methylpropyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate for monitoring W. retiella to gather more detailed information about the geographic distribution and habitat needs of this rare moth.


Endangered species; Species monitoring; Field observation; 1-Methylethyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate; (1S)-1-Methylpropyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate; Stereoisomers; Enantiomers

Published in

Journal of Chemical Ecology
2020, Volume: 46, pages: 115-127 Publisher: SPRINGER