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Annu Rev Entomol. 2001;46:31-78.

Mating behavior and chemical communication in the order Hymenoptera.

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Institute of Zoology, Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna, A-1090 Austria.


Insects of the order Hymenoptera are biologically and economically important members of natural and agro ecosystems and exhibit diverse biologies, mating systems, and sex pheromones. We review what is known of their sex pheromone chemistry and function, paying particular emphasis to the Hymenoptera Aculeata (primarily ants, bees, and sphecid and vespid wasps), and provide a framework for the functional classification of their sex pheromones. Sex pheromones often comprise multicomponent blends derived from numerous exocrine tissues, including the cuticle. However, very few sex pheromones have been definitively characterized using bioassays, in part because of the behavioral sophistication of many Aculeata. The relative importance of species isolation versus sexual selection in shaping sex pheromone evolution is still unclear. Many species appear to discriminate among mates at the level of individual or kin/colony, and they use antiaphrodisiacs. Some orchids use hymenopteran sex pheromones to dupe males into performing pseudocopulation, with extreme species specificity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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