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Female metasternal gland odours mediate male aggregation in Rhodnius prolixus, a triatomid bug

Authors

  • G. B. PONTES,

    Corresponding author
    1. Grupo de Comportamento de Vetores e Interação com Patógenos, Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou-Fiocruz, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil
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  • M. G. LORENZO

    1. Grupo de Comportamento de Vetores e Interação com Patógenos, Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou-Fiocruz, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil
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Gina B. Pontes, Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou-Fiocruz, Av. Augusto de Lima 1715, CEP 30.190-002 Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil. Tel.: +55 31 3349 7806; Fax: +55 31 3295 3115; E-mail: ginapontes@hotmail.com

Abstract

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.

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