Identification, synthesis and activity of sex pheromone gland components of the autumn gum moth (Lepidoptera : Geometridae), a defoliator of Eucalyptus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The autumn gum moth, Mnesampela privata (Guenee) (Lepidoptera: Geometridae), is native to Australia and can be a pest of plantation eucalypts. Field-collected and laboratory-reared female autumn gum moths were dissected to remove glands likely to contain components of the sex pheromone. Using gas chromatography (GC) and combined gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), three compounds were identified from female extracts, namely (3Z,6Z,9Z)-3,6,9-nonadecatriene, 1-hexadecanol and 1-octadecanol (confirmed by comparison with synthetic samples). Nonadecatriene elicited an antennal response in male autumn gum moth during gas chromatographic analyses combined with electroantennographic detection (GC-EAD). In electroantennogram (EAG) recording male M. privata antennae responded to the nonadecatriene. Nonadecatriene was synthesised via Kolbe electrolysis, starting with (9Z,12Z,15Z)-octadeca-9,12,15-trienoic acid (linolenic acid) and propanoic acid or via an alternative four-step method also starting from linolenic acid. In field trials (3Z,6Z,9Z)-3,6,9-nonadecatriene proved attractive to male moths. Thus, we conclude that (3Z,6Z,9Z)-3,6,9-nonadecatriene is a sex pheromone component of autumn gum moth. This component has been identified in extracts from other geometrids in the same subfamily, Ennominae. However, to our knowledge this is the first example where (3Z,6Z,9Z)-3,6,9-nonadecatriene has been found in females and also proved attractive to male moths when presented on its own. Our results are discussed in relation to other geometrid pheromones.


  • MJ Steinbauer
  • Fredrik Östrand
  • TE Bellas
  • A Nilsson
  • F Andersson
  • E Hedenström
  • MJ Lacey
  • FP Schiestl
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-223
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Chemical Ecology/Ecotoxicology (Closed 2011) (011006020)