Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Nest structures display specific hydrocarbon profiles: insights into the chemical ecology of the invasive yellow-legged hornet Vespa velutina nigrithorax.

Abstract

In insects, chemical communication is the most common form of communication, and cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) are employed in recognition processes. In social insects, CHCs also help define colony identity and thus contribute to social cohesion among nestmates. Individuals can deposit their chemical signatures on nest surfaces. This information serves as a reference for newly emerged individuals and allows them to obtain the odor specific to their colony. This study examined nest chemical profiles in an inbred invasive species: the yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax. We demonstrated that nest structures (i.e., envelopes, combs, and pillars) had specific hydrocarbon profiles, which were colony specific. There were similarities between the chemical profiles of the nests and the CHC signatures of hornets. The loss of genetic diversity previously documented in the yellow-legged hornet population in France does not appear to have constrained nest chemical diversity.