Parasitoids and dipteran predators exploit volatiles from microbial symbionts to locate bark beetles

Celia K. Boone, Diana L. Six, Yanbing Zheng, Kenneth F. Raffa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Host location by parasitoids and dipteran predators of bark beetles is poorly understood. Unlike coleopteran predators that locate prey by orienting to prey pheromones, wasps and flies often attack life stages not present until after pheromone production ceases. Bark beetles have important microbial symbionts, which could provide sources of cues. We tested host trees, trees colonized by beetles and symbionts, and trees colonized by symbionts alone for attractiveness to hymenopteran parasitoids and dipteran predators. Field studies were conducted with Ips pini in Montana. Three pteromalid wasps were predominant. All were associated with the second and third instars of I. pini. Heydenia unica was more attracted to logs colonized by either I. pini or the fungus Ophiostoma ips than logs alone or blank controls (screen with no log). Rhopalicus pulchripennis was more attracted to logs colonized by I. pini than logs alone or blank controls. Dibrachys cavus was attracted to logs but did not distinguish whether or not they were colonized. Two dolichopodid predators were predominant. A Medetera species was more attracted to colonized than uncolonized logs and more attracted to logs than blank controls. It was also more attracted to logs colonized with the yeast Pichia scolyti than uncolonized logs, but attraction was less consistent. An unidentified dolichopodid was more attracted to logs colonized with I. pini, O. ips, and the bacteria Burkholderia sp., than to uncolonized logs. It was also attracted to uncolonized logs. Its responses were less consistent and pronounced than H. unica. These results suggest some parasitoids and dipteran predators exploit microbial symbionts of bark beetles to locate hosts. Overall, specialists showed strong attraction to fungal cues, whereas generalists were more attracted by plant volatiles. These results also show how microbial symbionts can have conflicting effects on host fitness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-161
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Entomology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Ips pini
  • Microbe interactions
  • Parasitoid behavior
  • Predator behavior
  • Semiochemicals


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