The Effect of a Wasp's Age on Its Cuticular Hydrocarbon Profile and Its Tolerance by Nestmate and Non-Nestmate Conspecifics (Polistes fuscatus, Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

Authors

  • Laura M. Panek,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan; Department of Entomology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
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  • George J. Gamboa,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan; Department of Entomology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
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  • Karl E. Espelie

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan; Department of Entomology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
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George J. Gamboa, Department of Biological Sciences, Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309, USA. E-mail: gamboa@oakland.edu

Abstract

The effect of a wasp's age on its cuticular hydrocarbon profile and its tolerance by nestmate and non-nestmate conspecifics was investigated in a laboratory study of newly eclosed wasps (Polistes fuscatus) that were isolated from their comb at eclosion. In blind observations, mature females did not discriminate between young nestmates and non-nestmates that were ≤ 48 h-old. However, mature females did discriminate between young nestmates and non-nestmates that were 72 h old. Specifically, mature females were significantly more tolerant of (and significantly more likely to accept) 72 h-old nestmates than 72 h old non-nestmates. The abundance, relative abundance, and colony specificity of cuticular hydrocarbons changed significantly between 24 h-old and 72 h-old wasps. Our behavioral and chemical evidence indicates that wasps begin to develop a colony signature between 2 and 3 d of age.

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