Polistes biglumis bimaculatus epicuticular hydrocarbons and nestmate recognition (Hymenoptera, Vespidae)
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An experimental analysis was conducted to determine if chemicals from the cuticle of a social wasp are used in nestmate recognition. These chemicals were also subsequently identified. Laboratory colonies of Polistes biglumis bimaculatus were presented with (1) dead nestmates and dead non‐nestmates, (2) dead nestmates and dead non‐nestmates that were subjected to solvent‐washing to eliminate epicuticular compounds and (3) dead nestmates and dead non‐nestmates that were treated again with extracts of nestmates or non-nestmates. Behavioural responses (acceptance or rejection of introduced wasps) by colony residents showed that they were able to discriminate between dead nestmates and dead non‐nestmates and that they used epicuticular substances to perform the discrimination process. The GC‐MS analyses of the epicuticular compounds showed that they consisted of a blend of hydrocarbons. Multivariate analysis of individual hydrocarbon profiles of wasps from different colonies showed that colonies had distinct hydrocarbon profiles.
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