Herbivore natural enemies base their foraging decision on information cues from different trophic levels but mainly from plant odors. However, the second trophic level (i.e., the herbivorous prey) may also provide reliable infochemical cues for their natural enemies. We have evaluated the role of the aggregation pheromone from Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) as a potential kairomone for its natural enemy, the predatory bug Orius laevigatus (Fieber). For this purpose, we have analyzed the response of O. laevigatus to (R)-lavandulyl acetate and neryl (S)-2-methylbutanoate, the two major components of the thrips aggregation pheromone. These compounds have been offered to O. laevigatus adult females and nymphs of the predatory bugs both in separate and as specific (1:1 or 1:2.3) blends, in experiments involving a dual choice Y-tube olfactometer. None of the compounds attracted adults or nymphs when they were individually supplied. Conversely, they were significantly attracted to both adults and nymphs when offered as a blend. A 1:2.3 (R)-lavandulyl acetate:neryl (S)-2-methylbutanoate blend was attractive to both nymphs and adults, while a 1:1 blend elicited response only in nymphs. These results suggest that specific blends of these compounds from the aggregation pheromone may be used as an attractant to O. laevigatus. The results of this work highlight the importance of studying olfactory responses of natural enemies for a better understanding of their foraging behavior. Potential uses of these results in future studies are discussed.
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