Identification and Synthesis of Putative Pheromone Components of the Threatened Salt Marsh Bagworm Moth, Whittleia retiella (Lepidoptera Psychidae)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Whittleia retiella (Newman, 1847) is a threatened salt marsh species of the bagworm moth family Psychidae. For its preservation it is necessary to develop efficient tools to survey its distribution and habitat requirements in order to use appropriate conservation methods. Such tools may be pheromone-based monitoring systems, which have documented efficacy in establishing the occurrence of cryptic insect species in nature. By using gas chromatography combined with electroantennographic detection (GC-EAD), we found two compounds in female W. retiella headspace samples and whole-body extracts that elicited electrophysiological activity in male antennae. Gas chromatograpy coupled with mass spectrometry (GC-MS) operating in electron impact (EI) mode and comparison of the analytical data with those of synthetic reference compounds showed the chemical structures of these putative pheromone components to be (1S)-1-methylpropyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate and 1-methylethyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate. Field assays using baits loaded with synthetic compounds revealed that conspecific males were attracted to (1S)-1-methylpropyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate alone or in combination with 1-methylethyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate, whereas 1-methylethyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate neither attracted nor repelled males in the field assays when tested alone. This study shows the potential of using (1S)-1-methylpropyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate for monitoring W. retiella to gather more detailed information about the geographic distribution and habitat needs of this rare moth.


  • Rizan Rahmani
  • David Carrasco
  • Glenn P. Svensson
  • Hartmut Roweck
  • Nils Ryrholm
  • Mattias C. Larsson
  • Erik Hedenström
External organisations
  • Mid Sweden University
  • University of Kiel
  • University of Gävle
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Zoology
  • Analytical Chemistry


  • (1S)-1-Methylpropyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate, 1-Methylethyl (5Z)-dec-5-enoate, Enantiomers, Endangered species, Field observation, Species monitoring, Stereoisomers
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115–127
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 13
Publication categoryResearch