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Chemoecology

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 75–82 | Cite as

Age-dependent attractivity of males’ sexual pheromones in Bombus terrestris (L.) [Hymenoptera, Apidae]

  • Audrey CoppéeEmail author
  • Tifany Mathy
  • Marie-Claire Cammaerts
  • François J. Verheggen
  • Michael Terzo
  • Stéphanie Iserbyt
  • Irena Valterová
  • Pierre Rasmont
Research Paper

Abstract

Males of Bombus terrestris (L.) adopt a patrolling behaviour during their nuptial parade using cephalic labial gland (CLG) secretions containing sexual pheromones to attract conspecific virgin queens. The changes in chemical composition of their CLG secretions with age are quite well known. In this study, we investigate the evolution of CLG secretions with age in greater detail and compare behavioural reactions of conspecific virgin queens to the secretions. We show that compounds of CLG secretions follow two profiles. Most of the compounds increase from the first day after emergence until the bees are 15-days-old and then decrease. Others are less abundant in 1 to 15-day-old males and then increase (e.g. tricosane, tricosene, henicosane, tetradecanoic acid, pentacosene, pentacosane, heptacosene, heptacosane, nonacosene and geranylcitronellyl tetradecanoate). Differences in secretion composition lead to preferences of virgin queens for males according to the male’s age. Virgin queens prefer the pheromonal gland secretions of bees of the following ages in decreasing order; 1 day = 3 days < 7 days = 30 days < 15 days < 10 days. The virgin queens are strongly attracted by secretions containing high amounts of 2,3-dihydrofarnesol, 2,3-dihydrofarnesal, ethyl dodecanoate and hexadecanol. On the contrary, geranylcitronellol is more abundant in 30-day-old males.

Keywords

Bombus terrestris Sexual pheromones Age-dependent variations Behavioural tests 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge the ‘Fonds pour la formation à la Recherche dans l’Industrie et dans l’Agriculture’, which awarded a grant to A.C., and the ‘Fonds de la Recherche Fondamentale et Collective (projet 2.4.564.06.F)’. They are also grateful to Biobest for having provided the biological material. I.V. thanks the Czech Science Foundation (project no. 203/09/1446) for financial support. A.C. is grateful to Mike Wykes for his kind proof reading.

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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Audrey Coppée
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Tifany Mathy
    • 1
  • Marie-Claire Cammaerts
    • 2
  • François J. Verheggen
    • 3
  • Michael Terzo
    • 1
  • Stéphanie Iserbyt
    • 1
  • Irena Valterová
    • 4
  • Pierre Rasmont
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de ZoologieUniversité de Mons (UMons)MonsBelgium
  2. 2.Faculté des SciencesUniversité Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium
  3. 3.Entomologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, Gembloux Agro-Bio TechLiège UniversityGemblouxBelgium
  4. 4.Institute of Organic Chemistry and BiochemistryAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPragueCzech Republic

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