Nest Hydrocarbons as Cues for Philopatry in a Paper Wasp
wasps, wasp nesting, wasp breeding, overwintering, hydrocarbons, genetics, insects, insect behavior, entomology
Philopatric behavior has been demonstrated in a wide taxonomic spread of animals. In temperate environments, overwintered Polistes wasp foundresses often return to their natal nest prior to initiating colony construction. Previous research has shown that these spring foundresses can identify the natal nest in the absence of landmark and gross morphological cues. Hydrocarbons are essential recognition cues for Polistes nest and nestmate discrimination, but cuticular hydrocarbon profiles can become homogenized when foundresses overwinter in mixed colony groups. We examined the hydrocarbon profiles of Polistes dominulus foundresses and nests before and after an overwintering period, and found that the hydrocarbon profiles of nests remain unique over time and that this uniqueness is influenced by the original foundresses. Our data raise the possibility that in returning to the natal nest, foundresses reacquire their colony-specific signature, which may play a role in the formation of cooperative associations.
Sumana, Annagiri; Liebert, Aviva E.; Berry, Anne S.; Switz, Ghislaine T.; Orians, Colin M.; and Starks, Philip T.. "Nest Hydrocarbons as Cues for Philopatry in a Paper Wasp." Ethology 111, no. 5 (2005): 469-477. Accessed at http://digitalcommons.framingham.edu/bio_facpub/40