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Keywords:

  • Rhodnius prolixus;
  • Chagas disease;
  • metasternal glands;
  • sexual aggregation

We investigated whether metasternal gland (MG) products mediate male aggregation during mating in Rhodnius prolixus (Heteroptera: Reduviidae) Stål, 1859, through selective occlusion of female MGs. Pairs of insects presenting intact MGs mated and other males aggregated around them confirming conclusions from previous studies. However, when female MGs were occluded, males did not aggregate. Conversely, the occlusion of male MGs did not affect aggregation of males. The present experiments demonstrated that the products emitted by the MGs of a mating R. prolixus female induce other males to aggregate around the mating pair. Aggregation behaviour of males probably results from the eventual release of volatiles from the female's MGs. We reinforce the hypothesis suggesting that the compounds produced by the MGs of R. prolixus act as sexual communication signals for this species.