Subtle differences in pheromone components of sympatric species should be attractive only to the producing species and unattractive or repellent to the nonproducing species, and thereby maintain reproductive isolation and reduce competition between species. Bark beetles Dendroctonus brevicomis and D. frontalis (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) are known to have common pheromone components, except for exo-brevicomin, which is produced by D. brevicomis. We predicted that D. frontalis would not respond to exo-brevicomin outside of the zone of sympatry with D. brevicomis. We conducted a field experiment to determine the effect of exo-brevicomin on attraction of D. frontalis and associated species in Mississippi. We determined whether D. frontalis pheromone production differed inside and outside the sympatric zone and compared the pheromone profiles with D. brevicomis within the sympatric zone. Trapping studies revealed that D. frontalis can perceive and respond positively to exo-brevicomin, an aggregation pheromone of a sympatric congener (D. brevicomis), at locations hundreds of kilometers outside the sympatric zone. Qualitative pheromone profiles showed that both species emit similar pheromone components: frontalin, endo-brevicomin, exo-brevicomin, trans-verbenol, verbenone, and myrtenol. Although not previously reported, D. frontalis males from Arizona produced exo-brevicomin. The predator Thanasimus dubius did not discriminate traps baited with exo-brevicomin and was most attracted to traps with frontalin. Hylastes beetles were significantly attracted to traps baited with exo-brevicomin in combination with other compounds. Our results raise new practical and evolutionary questions on the role of exo-brevicomin in the behavioral ecology of D. frontalis. The addition of exo-brevicomin to the current lure might increase the efficiency of trapping programs in the southeastern United States.
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