Maternal Behaviour and Nest Recognition in the Subsocial Earwig Labidura riparia Pallas (Dermaptera: Labiduridae)


Zoologisches Institut III, Röntgenring 10, W-8700 Würzburg, F.R.G.


Maternal behaviour in Labidura riparia includes care for eggs and for newly hatched larvae. Females provide their young with food and defend them (e.g. against conspecifics). Foraging females have to leave their nest and must find their way back to the brood chamber. Several active brood chambers can be situated in close vicinity in the field. This could cause identification problems. We demonstrate that females are unable to distinguish own from alien offspring. They discriminate, however, their own brood chambers from alien nests by individual-specific recognition pheromones (discriminators) produced by the female and transferred to the nest substratum. Thus brood care is reliably restricted to the own progeny. The larvae leave the nest 2–5 d after hatching. After the first excursion the larvae do not return to their mother's nest.