Abstract 1 Synthetic blends of bole and foliage volatiles of four sympatric species of conifers were released from pheromone-baited multiple-funnel traps to determine if three species of tree-killing bark beetles (Coleoptera: Scolytidae): (i) exhibited primary attraction to volatiles of their hosts and (ii) discriminated among volatiles of four sympatric species of host and nonhost conifers.
2 Bole and foliage volatiles from Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco, increased the attraction of coastal and interior Douglas-fir beetles, Dendroctonus pseudotsugae Hopkins, to pheromone-baited traps. Primary attraction to bole volatiles was observed in interior D. pseudotsugae. Beetles were significantly less attracted to the pheromone bait when it was combined with volatiles of lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta var. latifolia Engelm. or interior fir, Abies lasiocarpa × bifolia.
3 The monoterpene myrcene synergized attraction of mountain pine beetles, Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins, to their aggregation pheromones, but there was no evidence of primary attraction to host volatiles or discrimination among volatiles from the four conifers.
4 There was significant primary attraction of the spruce beetle, Dendroctonus rufipennis Kirby, to bole and foliage volatiles of interior spruce, Picea engelmannii × glauca, but beetles did not discriminate among volatiles of four sympatric conifers when they were combined with pheromone baits.
5 Our results indicate that host volatiles act as kairomones to aid pioneer Douglas-fir beetles and spruce beetles in host location by primary attraction, and that their role as synergists to aggregation pheromones is significant. For the mountain pine beetle, we conclude that random landing and close range acceptance or rejection of potential hosts would occur in the absence of aggregation pheromones emanating from a tree under attack.