Studies on the maturation-accelerating pheromone of the desert locustSchistocerca gregaria (Orthoptera: Acrididae)
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The accelerating effect of mature males of the desert locust,Schistocerca gregaria, on the maturation of immature male and female conspecifics was confirmed. The onset of sexual activity was found to correlate with yellowing of the male insects. Using the colour as an indicator of maturation, the maturation-hastening effect of an hexane extract from mature males was also confirmed. Likewise, volatiles from mature males placed in the upper storey of a two-chamber bioassay system (no visual or tactile contact possible) and charcoal-trapped volatiles from the mature males also induced accelerated maturation in recipient males placed in the lower storey. GC and GC-MS analysis of volatiles collected from 4-week-old mature males showed the presence of anisole, benzaldehyde, veratrole, phenylacetonitrile and 4-vinylveratrole, roughly at the ratio 4.8:7.0:3.3:79.8:5.0. In addition, guaiacol, phenol, benzoylnitrile, benzyl alcohol and 2-benzoyloxyphenylacetonitrile were present in smaller amounts. These compounds were either absent or found only in trace amounts in the female volatiles. Earlier, we had shown that essentially the same blend collected from younger males (10–20 d old, not yet demonstrating signs of maturation) induced strong aggregation of both sexes of adult desert locusts, suggesting a parsimonious role for the pheromone system: as an adult aggregation signal and as a maturation accelerant in young adults.