Age-dependent attractivity of males’ sexual pheromones in Bombus terrestris (L.) [Hymenoptera, Apidae]
- 209 Downloads
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.
KeywordsBombus terrestris Sexual pheromones Age-dependent variations Behavioural tests
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.
- Ågren L, Cederberg B, Svensson BG (1979) Changes with age in ultrastructure and pheromone content of male labial glands in some bumble bee species (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Zoon 7:1–14Google Scholar
- Bergman P (1997) Chemical communication in bumblebees premating behavior. Ph.D. thesis, Department of Chemical Ecology, Göteborg University, Göteborg. 30p + 6 annexesGoogle Scholar
- Bergström G (1981) Chemical aspects of insect exocrine signals as a means for systematic and phylogenetic discussions in aculeate Hymenoptera. Entomol Scand Suppl 15:173–184Google Scholar
- Kullenberg B, Bergström G, Bringer B, Carlberg B, Cederberg B (1973) Observations on scent marking by Bombus Latr and Psithyrus Lep. males (Hymenoptera, Apidae) and localization of site of production of the secretion. Zoon Suppl 1:23–30Google Scholar
- Rasmont P, Coppée A, Michez D, De Meulemeester T (2008) An overview of the Bombus terrestris (L. 1758) subspecies (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Ann Soc Entomol Fr 44:243–250Google Scholar
- Svensson BG (1979) Patrolling behaviour of bumble bee males (Hymenoptera, Apidae) in a subalpine/alpine area, Swedish Lapland. Zoon 7:67–94Google Scholar