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Characteristic odor of Osmoderma eremita identified as a male-released pheromone

  • Mattias C Larsson
  • Jonas Hedin
  • Glenn Svensson
  • T Tolasch
  • Wittko Francke
Publiceringsår: 2003
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 575-587
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Journal of Chemical Ecology
Volym: 29
Nummer: 3
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Springer


Osmoderma eremita (Scopoli) is an endangered scarab beetle living in hollow trees. It has mainly been known for its characteristic odor, typically described as a fruity, peachlike or plumlike aroma. The odor emanating from a single beetle can sometimes be perceived from a distance of several meters. In this paper, we show that the characteristic odor from O. eremita is caused by the compound (R)-(C)-gamma-decalactone, released in large quantities mainly or exclusively by male beetles. Antennae from male and female beetles responded in a similar way to (R)-(C)-gamma-decalactone in electroantennographic recordings. Field trapping experiments showed that (R)-(C)-gamma-decalactone is a pheromone attracting female beetles. Lactones similar to (R)-(C)-gamma-decalactone are frequently used as female-released sex pheromones by phytophagous scarabs. This is, however, the first evidence of a lactone used as a male-produced pheromone in scarab beetles. We propose that the strong signal from males is a sexually selected trait used to compete for females and matings. The signal could work within trees but also act as a guide to tree hollows, which are an essential resource for O. eremita. Males may, thus, attract females dispersing from their natal tree by advertising a suitable habitat. This signal could also be exploited by other males searching for tree hollows or for females, which would explain the catch of several males in our traps.


  • Zoology
  • Biological Sciences


  • The PheroBio project (Pheromone monitoring of Biodiversity)
  • Pheromone Group
  • ISSN: 1573-1561

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