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Keywords:

  • aggregation;
  • chemical profile;
  • Coccinellidae;
  • intraspecific communication;
  • temporal modification

Abstract

The multicoloured Asian ladybeetle, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas), aggregates inside dwellings during winters to survive the cold. This beetle uses chemical cues coming from congeners to select an overwintering site. Recent research has shown that they preferentially gather at places where conspecifics previously laid a substrate marking made up of saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons. Some authors have reported that H. axyridis colonizes the same overwintering sites from 1 year to another. Herein, the hypothesis that this substrate marking is used by H. axyridis to settle in the same aggregation sites from one winter to another was tested. To this aim, the temporal modification in the chemical profile of the hydrocarbon marking was studied by performing chromatographic analyses. After 1 year, the overall profile was modified qualitatively and quantitatively: the unsaturated hydrocarbons were no longer detected while some saturated hydrocarbons were still present in large quantities. In a behavioural assay conducted in the laboratory, the 12-month-old marking did not induce the aggregation of H. axyridis. This result indicates that the chemical markings left by conspecifics during a previous aggregation period in an overwintering site are not sufficient to induce the gathering of the newly arriving individuals.