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Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Vol. 24, Iss. 8 — Apr. 15, 1985
  • pp: 1088–1093

Mechanism of attraction of the lovebug, Plecia nearctica, to southern highways: further evidence for the IR-dielectric waveguide theory of insect olfaction

Philip S. Callahan, Thelma C. Carlysle, and Harold A. Denmark  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 24, Issue 8, pp. 1088-1093 (1985)

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Irradiated automobile exhaust fumes and their components were tested as an attractant for the lovebug, Plecia nearctica Hardy. Of the five different aldehydes tested, formaldehyde and heptaldehyde were the two most attractive. Formaldehyde is the abundant aldehyde in the fumes of diesel exhaust and is probably the single most important attractant. A generalized description is given of the female antennae. Three different types of sensillum (spine) match the 1–2-wavelength criteria for an open-resonator dielectric antenna, as given by Kiely. A nonlinear IR spectrum obtained by blowing saturated formaldehyde air through a punch-hole scatter antenna is given. The 10.93-, 22.73-, 26.88-, 32.79-, and 42.19-μm maserlike lines match the predicted wavelength resonant modes for the three sensilla. This is considered direct evidence for a man-generated wavelength mimic of a natural attractant and also direct evidence of the validity of Callahan's dielectric waveguide–nonlinear molecular (maserlike) emission theory of the insect communication system.

© 1985 Optical Society of America

Original Manuscript: May 30, 1984
Published: April 15, 1985

Philip S. Callahan, Thelma C. Carlysle, and Harold A. Denmark, "Mechanism of attraction of the lovebug, Plecia nearctica, to southern highways: further evidence for the IR-dielectric waveguide theory of insect olfaction," Appl. Opt. 24, 1088-1093 (1985)

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  1. L. L. Buschman, “Invasion of Florida by the ‘Lovebug’ Plecia nearctica (Diptera: Bibionidae),” Fla. Entomol. 59, 191 (1976). [CrossRef]
  2. P. S. Callahan, “Nonlinear IR Resonance in a Biological System,” Appl. Opt. 20, 3827 (1981). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
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  10. P. S. Callahan, “Oviposition Response of the Imago of the Corn Earworm, Heliothis zea (Boddie), to Various Wavelengths of Light,” Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 50, 444 (1957).
  11. P. S. Callahan, The Soul of the Ghost Moth (The Devin-Adair Co., Old Greenwich, Conn., 1981).
  12. J. W. Snow, P. S. Callahan, “Laboratory Mating Studies of the Corn Earworm, Heliothis zea, (Lepidoptea: Noctuidae),” Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 60, 1066 (1967).
  13. C. L. Mangum, P. S. Callahan, “Attraction of Near-Infrared Radiation to Aedes aegypti,” J. Econ. Entomol. 61, 36 (1968). [PubMed]
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