Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp 2229–2241 | Cite as

Surface lipids of social waspPolistes melricus say and its nest and nest pedicel and their relation to nestmate recognition

  • Karl E. Espelie
  • John W. Wenzel
  • George Chang


In eight replicate laboratory tests wherePolistes metricus adults were allowed to choose between their own nest, a second nest, and neither nest, they selected their own nest 66% of the observed time. When the surface hydrocarbons had been extracted from the nests, the wasps chose their own nest only 8% of the time, but after the hydrocarbons were reapplied to the surface of the respective nests, they selected their own nest 47% of the time. These changes are significant. The cuticular lipids were analyzed from individualP. metricus adult females collected from 13 colonies. Surface lipids were recovered from the paper and pedicels of their nests. Eighteen hydrocarbons were identified in these lipid fractions. The major components of the wasp cuticular lipids weren-heptacosane,n-nonacosane, methylhentriacontane, and methyltritriacontane. Factor analysis revealed that extracts of pedicels are all similar in composition, while cuticle and paper extracts vary, sometimes similarly according to colony identity.

Key words

Polistes metricus Hymenoptera Vespidae social wasps cuticular hydrocarbons nestmate recognition nest pedicel 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl E. Espelie
    • 1
  • John W. Wenzel
    • 1
  • George Chang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthens

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