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Age-related changes in the surface pheromones of the wasp Mischocyttarus consimilis (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

Author(s): E.F. Neves, L.H.C. Andrade, Y.R. Súarez, S.M. Lima and W.F. Antonialli-Junior

One of the most important attributes that allowed the evolution and maintenance of sociality in insects is their ability to distinguish members of their own colonies. The capacity for individual recognition in social insects is mediated by chemical signals that are acquired soon after the adult emerges, and vary according to the tasks performed by individuals in their colonies. We determined the time when adults of the wasp Mischocyttarus consimilis acquire the chemical signature of their colonies, as well as the variation in the cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of the exoskeleton of individuals, according to their functions in the colony. The method used was Fourier transform infrared photoacoustic spectroscopy directly on the gaster of each individual. Young wasps take three to four days to acquire the colony’s chemical signature, with a small change on the fifth day, when the cuticular hydrocarbon profile of the workers is more similar to that of the queens than that of the males, probably because they are of the same sex, but primarily because of the similarity of tasks executed by these two groups of females in the colonies.