Fine-scale resolution of closely spaced pheromone and antagonist filaments by flying male Helicoverpa zea

H. Y. Fadamiro, A. A. Cossé, T. C. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The limits of a male moth's ability to resolve closely spaced odor filaments have been investigated. Male Helicoverpa zea normally respond to their conspecific sex pheromone blend by exhibiting an upwind flight, which culminates in source contact by at least 50% of the bioassayed individuals. When loaded onto the same filter paper source containing this hitherto attractive pheromone blend, or onto a separate filter paper and co-emitted from the same pipette source with pheromone, (Z)-11-hexadecenyl acetate severely reduced upwind flight and source contact by male H. zea. A similar level of upwind flight inhibition was recorded when the antagonist (Z)-11-hexadecenyl acetate was emitted from its own point source placed 1 mm upwind of the pheromone point source, both plumes being simultaneously emitted in a continuous mode to form a confluent strand. However, (Z)-11-hexadecenyl acetate was less effective in reducing upwind flight and source contact when it was isolated and pulsed from its own source, placed 1 mm either upwind, downwind or cross-wind of a pipette source from which pheromone was simultaneously being pulsed, such that both filaments were separated in time by 0.001-0. 003 s. These results suggest that male H. zea are able to distinguish between odor sources separated by as little as 1 mm in space and 0.001 s in time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-141
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology - A Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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