We conducted laboratory and field bioassays to characterize the pheromone system of an ash bark beetle, Hylesinus pruinosus Eichhoff (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae). Solitary females in newly initiated galleries in ash logs produced ( )-exo-brevicomin, whereas male beetles paired with females produced (-)-endo-brevicomin, lesser quantities of ( )-exo-brevicomin, and a third compound that could not be identified. Beetles produced these compounds also after exposure to juvenile hormone III, and they were the sole volatile chemicals isolated from beetles or aerations of infested logs that elicited electrophysiological responses from antennae of either sex. In the field, both sexes were strongly attracted to traps baited solely with either racemic or pure ( )-endo-brevicomin. Racemic exo-brevicomin was much less attractive to both sexes than racemic endo-brevicomin, and it did not increase attraction of endo-brevicomin when released in combination. Host odors (volatiles from mechanically damaged ash branches) failed to attract beetles or increase attractiveness of racemic exo-brevicomin. Our evidence suggests that male-produced ( )-endo-brevicomin is the major component of an aggregation pheromone for H. pruinosus, with ( )-exo-brevicomin and the unidentified male compound playing an indeterminate role in the chemical ecology of this species. Our data thus show an instance in which the major aggregation pheromone component of a bark beetle is produced by the secondarily arriving sex, a rare occurrence in bark beetles but one which has been reported previously for the Hylesini.
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