Insect Sex Pheromones: Minor Amount of Opposite Geometrical Isomer Critical to Attraction

Science  17 Aug 1973:
Vol. 181, Issue 4100, pp. 661-663
DOI: 10.1126/science.181.4100.661


(Z)-II-Tetradecenyl acetate is the reported sex pheromone of European corn borer and redbanded leafroller moths. However, geometrically pure preparations of the compound are weakly attractive to these species. Presence of the E geometrical isomer in the Z is necessary for maximum sex attraction and these moths are "tuned" to respond optimally to specific proportions of Z to E. This discovery is important to considerations of moth pheromonal specificity, evolution, and in application of knowledge of the pheromones to insect-pest suppression.