Trace Chemicals: The Essence of Sexual Communication Systems in Heliothis Species

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Science  22 Jun 1979:
Vol. 204, Issue 4399, pp. 1328-1330
DOI: 10.1126/science.204.4399.1328


Analysis of heptane-soluble compounds from ovipositors of Heliothis zea and Heliothis virescens shows that both species produce relatively large amounts of (Z)-11-hexadecenal, with traces of (Z)-9-hexadecenal, (Z)-7-hexadecenal, and hexadecanal. Heliothis virescens females differ from Heliothis zea in that they also produce trace amounts of tetradecanal, (Z)-9-tetradecenal, and (Z)-11-hexadecen-1-ol. In both species, trace compounds are essential to pheromonal activity and specificity of chemical signals.