Factors influencing pheromone production by the boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis Boheman, have been extensively studied, yet recent research using new methods suggests much remains unknown in this regard. The studies reported herein examined age-related changes in production and composition of pheromone at ages from 0 to 6 d, and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 d, respectively, and evaluated the association between accessory gland condition and pheromone production. Estimates of pheromone from extracted feces were near the upper values previously reported. However, ≈95% of the total pheromone was obtained from headspace collections. Based on feces extractions, pheromone production increased with age until the sixth day, while headspace collections indicated an increase in production until the ninth day of adulthood. The boll weevil pheromone is composed of two alcohols (components I and II) and two aldehydes (components III and IV), and ratios of these components changed with age. Component I was dominant for the first days of adult life, but the composition subsequently stabilized at ≈42.5:42.5:5:10 (I:II:III:IV). Also, high levels of pheromone production were associated with well-developed accessory glands, while weevils with small, transparent glands produced little or no pheromone. These results demonstrate production of pheromone in greater quantities, and at earlier ages, than was previously recognized. Additional study using the methods reported herein should provide improved understanding of the dynamics of boll weevil pheromone production that will facilitate ecological interpretation of field data and improvements in trapping systems.
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