Sexual Communication in Yellowjackets (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-11
Identifier: 
etd10042
Keywords: 
Vespidae
Vespula
Dolichovespula
Sex pheromones
Cuticular hydrocarbons
Abstract: 

To determine if and how pheromones mediate sexual communication of yellowjackets [Dolichovespula arenaria, D. maculata, Vespula alascensis, V. pensylvanica, V. squamosa], I took three approaches: (1) In field trapping experiments, I baited traps with a virgin queen (gyne) or a male and tested for their ability to attract prospective mates. I found that only gynes of D. arenaria attracted males. (2) In laboratory Y-tube olfactometer experiments with D. arenaria, D. maculata and V. pensylvanica, I used sibling or non-sibling gynes as a test stimulus, and found that only D. maculata gynes attracted conspecific males, provided they were non-siblings. These results imply an olfactory-based mechanism of nestmate recognition and inbreeding avoidance. (3) I tested the hypothesis that cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) differentiate sex, caste, and nest membership. I found that each caste had specific CHC profiles. My data demonstrate the diversity and complexity of sexual communication in yellowjacket wasps, and inspire follow-up studies to identify the sex pheromones.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Gerhard Gries
Department: 
Science: Biological Sciences Department
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.
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