Walking response of the mediterranean pine engraver, Orthotomicus erosus, to novel plant odors in a laboratory olfactometer

Abigail J. Walter, Robert C. Venette, Stephen A. Kells, Steven J. Seybold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


When an herbivorous insect enters a new geographic area, it will select host plants based on short and long distance cues. A conifer-feeding bark beetle that has been recently introduced to North America, the Mediterranean pine engraver, Orthotomicus erosus (Wollaston), has a potentially wide host range, especially among members of the Pinaceae. The long-distance response of the beetles to tree odors may be a key feature of the mechanism of host recognition and selection. We used a laboratory olfactometer to study the walking response of 1,440 O. erosus to odor cues from the bark and phloem of six North American tree species. The beetle moved toward the angiosperm non-host Betula papyrifera more than would be expected by chance, but had a neutral response to odors of two tree species that support reproduction and three species that do not. These results suggest that tree odors alone may not be adequate for O. erosus to recognize novel hosts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-267
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Insect Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We would like to thank T. O’Brien (University of Minnesota NC-ROC) for assistance in felling trees, and the MAES/MDA Containment Facility. We also thank J. C. Lee, D.–G. Liu, and S. M. Hamud (UC-Davis and USDA FS PSW Station) for assistance with collecting, sorting, and shipping O. erosus. B. Therens assisted with the laboratory assays. The manuscript was improved by the suggestions of E. Clark, D. Huber, W. Meyer, D. Pureswaran, and two anonymous reviewers. This research was funded by a University of Minnesota Graduate School Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, and a University of Minnesota Department of Entomology Marion Brooks-Wallace Fellowship to AJW, the USDA Forest Service Northern and Pacific Southwest Research Stations, and the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.


  • Abies balsamea
  • Balsam fir
  • Bark beetle
  • Betula papyrifera
  • Eastern hemlock
  • Host range testing
  • Larix laricina
  • Paper birch
  • Picea glauca
  • Pinaceae
  • Pinus resinosa
  • Red pine
  • Scolytidae
  • Sequential no-choice olfactometer
  • Tamarack
  • Tsuga canadensis
  • White spruce


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