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Individual Highlight

Female Asian Longhorned Beetles Lure Mates With a Trail of Sex Pheromone

Photo of Male Asian longhorned beetle choosing the branch with the sex trail pheromone Melody Keena, USDA Forest ServiceMale Asian longhorned beetle choosing the branch with the sex trail pheromone Melody Keena, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Female Asian longhorned beetles lure males to their locations by laying down a sex-specific pheromone trail on the surfaces of trees. This finding by Forest Service researchers and partners could lead to the development of a tool to manage this invasive pest of about 25 tree species in the United States.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Keena, Melody 
Research Location : USDA Forest Service quarantine laboratory in Ansonia, CT; USDA ARS Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 605


Tens of thousands of hardwood trees, mostly maples, have been cut down and destroyed in New York, Ohio, and Massachusetts in an effort to eradicate the invasive Asian longhorned beetle. Forest Service researchers and partners discovered that female Asian longhorned beetles lay down a pheromone trail when they walk across the surface of a tree. The researchers isolated and identified four pheromone chemicals from the trails of virgin and mated females when they are about 20 days old, which corresponds to the time they are mature reproductively. These compounds are attractive to males, helping them initially find a female on a huge tree and relocate her to guard her from other males. The compounds also repel virgin females, probably to help females avoid competition for mates. These compounds have been synthesized and could potentially be useful in managing the invasive beetles in the field using a lure-and-kill method.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Aijun Zhang, USDA Agricultural Research Center
  • Kelli Hoover, Maya Nehme and Peter Meng, Penn State University Shifa Wang, Nanjing Forestry University