Effect of Larval Topical Application of Juvenile Hormone on Cuticular Chemical Composition of Mischocyttarus consimilis (Vespidae: Polistinae) Females

Erika Fernandes Neves, Thiago Santos Montagna, Luiz Carlos Santos Junior, Kamylla Balbuena Michelutti, Claudia Andrea Lima Cardoso, Luis Humberto Cunha Andrade, Sandro Marcio Lima, William Fernando Antonialli-Junior


Juvenile  Hormone  (JH)  is  considered  the  main  determinant  of  caste  in  social insects, though little is known about how this hormone acts in social wasps, especially the independent-founding species. The known relationship between JH titer and caste in the colony and we suggest a relationship among the effects of JH and the cuticular chemical profile. Therefore, this study aimed to test the hypothesis that topical application of JH to larvae of different instars alters the cuticular chemical composition of newly emerged females of Mischocyttarus consimilis (Zikán), influencing the dynamics of colony. Two techniques were used to evaluate the variation in cuticular chemical composition: Fourier transform infrared photoacoustic spectroscopy and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Indeed, the application of JH did significantly alter the cuticular chemical composition of adult females that received treatment at the larval stage in comparison to control. The effects of JH were instar-dependent in that the results of topical application were significant when performed at third larval instar. Overall, these results add evidence that caste determination may, at least in part may be pre-imaginal in species of independent-founding social wasps.


cuticular hydrocarbons; caste determination; vespidae; chemical communication

Full Text:



Antonialli-Junior, W.F., Lima, S.M., Andrade, L.H.C. & Suarez, Y.R. (2007). Comparative study of the cuticular hydrocarbon in queens, workers and males of Ectatomma vizzotoi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) by Fourier transform-infrared photoacoustic spectroscopy. Genetics and Molecular Research, 6: 492-499.

Antonialli-Junior, W.F. & Cruz-Landim, C. (2009). Efeitos da aplicação tópica de hormônio juvenil sobre o desenvolvimento dos ovários de larvas de operárias de Apis mellifera Linnaeus (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Revista Brasileira de Entomologia, 53: 115-120. doi: 10.1590/S0085-56262009000100025

Bonavita-Cougourdan, A., Theraulaz, G., Bagneres, A.G., Roux, M., Pratte, M., Provost, E. & Clement, J.L. (1991). Cuticular hydrocarbons, social organization and ovarian development in a Polistine wasp: Polistes dominulus Christ. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, 100: 667–680. doi: 10.1016/0305-0491(91)90272-F

Bonckaert, W., Drijfhout, F.P., D'Ettorre, P., Billen, J. & Wenseleers, T. (2012). Hydrocarbon signatures of egg maternity, caste membership and reproductive status in the common wasp. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 38: 42–51. doi: 10.1007/s10886-011-0055-9

Costanzi, E., Bagnères, A.G. & Lorenzi, M.C. (2013). Changes in the Hydrocarbon Proportions of Colony Odor and Their Consequences on Nestmate Recognition in Social Wasps. Plos One, 8: 1–11. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065107

D’Ettorre, P., Heinze, J., Schulz, C., Francke, W. & Ayasse, M. (2004). Does she smell like a queen? Chemoreception of a cuticular hydrocarbon signal in the ant Pachycondyla inversa. Journal of Experimental Biology, 207: 1085-1091. doi: 10.1242/jeb.00865

Dyar, H.V. (1890). The number of molts of lepidopterous larvae. Psyche, 5: 420- 422. doi: 10.1155/1890/23871

Gadagkar, R., Bhagavan, S., Malpe, R. & Vinutha, C. (1990). On reconfirming the evidence for pre-imaginal caste bias in a primitively eusocial wasp. Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Science, 99: 141-150. doi: 10.1007/BF03186384

Giannotti, E. (1998). The colony cycle of the social wasp, Mischocyttarus cerberus styx Richards, 1940 (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Revista Brasileira de Entomologia, 41: 217-224.

Gibbs, A.G. (2002). Lipid melting and cuticular permeability: new insights into an old problem. Journal of Insect Physiology, 48: 391-400. doi: 10.1016/S0022-1910(02)00059-8

Giray, T., Giovanetti, M. & West-Eberhard, M.J. (2005). Juvenile hormone, reproduction, and worker behavior in the neotropical social wasp Polistes canadensis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 102: 3330-3335. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0409560102

Gullan, P.J. & Cranston, P.S. (2012). Os insetos: um resumo de entomologia, 4ª ed.; Publisher: Roca, São Paulo, 2012; pp. 480; ISBN: 9788572889896

Hartfelder, K. & Rembold, H. (1991). Caste-specific modulation of juvenile hormone III content and ecdysteroid titer in postembryonic development of the stingless bee, Scaptotrigona postica depilis. Journal of Comparative Physiology, 160: 617-620. doi: 10.1007/BF00571258

Heinze, J., Stengl, B. & Sledge, M.F. (2002). Worker rank, reproductive status and cuticular hydrocarbon signature in the ant, Pachycondyla cf. inversa. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 52: 59-65. doi: 10.1007/s00265-002-0491-1

Howard, R.W., Perez-Lachaud, G. & Lachaud, J.P. (2001). Cuticular hydrocarbons of Kapala sulcifacies (Hym: Eucharitidae) and its host, the Ponerine ant Ectatomma ruidum (Hym: Formicidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 94: 707–716. doi: 10.1603/0013-8746

Howard, R.W. & Blomquist, G.J. (2005). Ecological, behavioral, and biochemical aspects of insect hydrocarbons. Annual Review of Entomology, 50: 371-393. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.50.071803.130359

Izzo, A., Wells, M., Huang, Z. & Tibbetts, E. (2010). Cuticular hydrocarbons correlate with fertility, not dominance, in a paper wasp, Polistes dominulus. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64: 857-864. doi: 10.1007/s00265-010-0902-7

Jeanne, R.L. (1972). Social biology of the neotropical wasp Mischocyttarus drewseni. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, 144: 63-150.

Judd, T.M., Magnus, R.M. & Fasnacht, M.P. (2010). A nutritional profile of the social wasp Polistes metricus: differences in nutrient levels between castes and changes within castes during the annual life cycle. Journal of Insect Physiology, 56: 42–56. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2009.09.002

Kather, R., Drijfhout, F.P & Martin, S.J. (2011). Task group differences in cuticular lipids in the honey bee Apis mellifera. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 37: 205-212. doi: 10.1007/s10886-011-9909-4

Laidlaw, H.H. (1992). The Hive and the Honey Bee, 1nd.; Publisher: Dadant, E.U.A. pp. 989–1042; ISBN: 978-0915698165

Lengyel, F., Westerlund, S.A. & Kaib, M. (2007). Juvenile hormone III influences task-specific cuticular hydrocarbon profile changes in the ant Myrmicaria eumenoides. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 33: 167-181. doi: 10.1007/s10886-006-9185-x

Lorenzi, M.C., Sledge, M.F., Laiolo, P., Sturlini, E. & Turillazzi, S. (2004). Cuticular hydrocarbon dynamics in young adult Polistes dominulus (Hymenoptera, Vespidae) and the role of linear hydrocarbons in nestmate recognition systems. Journal of Insect Physiology, 50: 935-941. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2004.07.005

Michaelian, K.H. (2003). Photoacoustic Infrared Spectroscopy; Publisher: Wiley-Interscience, Hoboken, pp. 335; ISBN: 78-0471134770

Michelutti, K.B., Cardoso, C.A.L. & Antonialli-Junior, W.F. (2017). Evaluation of chemical signatures in the developmental stages of Mischocyttarus consimilis Zikán (Hymenoptera, Vespidae) employing gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Revista Virtual de Química, 9: 535-547. doi: 10.21577/1984-6835.20170031

Mitra, A., Ramachandra, A. & Gadagkar R. (2014). Nestmate discrimination in the social wasp Ropalidia marginata: chemical cues and chemosensory mechanism. Animal Behaviour, 88: 113-124. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.11.017

Montagna, T.S., Raizer, J. & Antonialli-Junior, W.F. (2015). Effect of larval topical application of juvenile hormone on caste determination in the independent-founding eusocial wasp Mischocyttarus consimilis (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Open Journal of Animal Sciences, 5: 174-184. doi: 10.4236/ojas.2015.52020

Neves, E.F., Andrade, L.H.C., Súarez, Y.R., Lima, S.M. & Antonialli-Junior, W.F. (2012). Age-related changes in the surface pheromones of the wasp Mischocyttarus consimilis (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Genetics and Molecular Research, 11: 1891-1898. doi: 10.4238/2012.July.19.8

Nijhout, H.F. & Wheeler, D.E. (1982). Juvenile hormone and the physiological basis of insect polymorphisms. Quarterly Review of Biology, 57: 109-133.

Oi, C.A.; Van-Oystaeyen, A.; Oliveira, R.C. Millar, J.G.; Verstrepen, K.J.; Van-Zweden, J.S. & Wenseleers, T. (2015). Dual Effect of Wasp Queen Pheromone in Regulating Insect Sociality. Current Biology, 25: 1638-40. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.04.040

Panek, L.M., Gamboa, G.J. & Espelie, K.E. (2001). The effect of a wasp’s age on its cuticular hydrocarbon profile and its tolerance by nestmate and non-nestmate conspecifics (Polistes fuscatus, Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Ethology, 107: 55-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1439-0310.2001.00633.x

Park, Y.I. & Raina, A. (2003). Factors regulating caste differentiation in the Formosan subterranean termite with emphasis on soldier formation. Sociobiology, 41: 1–12. doi: 10113/3209

Penick, C.A., Prager, S.S. & Liebig, J. (2012). Juvenile Hormone Induces Queen Development in Late-Stage Larvae of the Ant Harpegnathos saltator. Journal of Insect Physiology, 58: 1643-1649. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2012.10.004

Prezoto, F. & Machado, V.L.L. (1999). Transferência de colônias de vespas (Polistes simillimus Zikán, 1951) (Hymenoptera, Vespidae) para abrigos artificiais e sua manutenção em uma cultura de Zea mays L. Revista Brasileira de Entomologia, 43: 239 241.

Quinn, G.P. & Keough, M.J. (2005). Experimental design and data analysis for biologists. Publisher: Cambridge University Press, E.U.A; pp. 222; ISBN-13: 978-0-511-07812-5

Robinson, G.E. & Vargo, E.L. (1997). Juvenile hormone in adult eusocial Hymenoptera: gonadotropin and behavioral pacemaker. Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology, 35: 559-583. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1520-6327(1997)35:4<559::AID-ARCH13>3.0.CO;2-9

Rossi, A.M. & Hunt, J.H. (1988). Honey supplementation and its development consequences: Evidence for food limitation for paper wasp, Polistes metricus. Ecological Entomology, 13: 437-442. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.1988.tb00376.x

Shorter, J. & Tibbetts, E. (2009). The effect of juvenile hormone on temporal polyethism in the paper wasp Polistes dominulus. Insectes Sociaux, 56: 7-13. doi: 10.1007/s00040-008-1026-1

Singer, T.L., Espelie, K.E. & Gamboa, G.J. (1998). Nest and nestmate discrimination in independent-founding wasps. In: Pheromone communication in social insects, 2nd ed.; Vander-Meer, R.K., Breed, M.D.,

Winston, M.L. & Espelie, E.K. Eds.; Publisher: Westview Press, Colorado, E.U.A, pp. 104-125; ISBN: 978-0813389769

Sledge, M.F., Boscaro, F. & Turillazzi, S. (2001). Cuticular hydrocarbons and reproductive status in the social wasp Polistes dominulus. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 49: 401-409. doi: 10.1007/s002650000311

Sledge, M.F., Trinca, I., Massolo, A., Boscaro, F.& Turillazzi, S. (2004) Variation in cuticular hydrocarbon signatures, hormonal correlates and establishment of reproductive dominance in a polistine wasp. Journal of Insect Physiology, 50: 73–83. doi: 0.1016/j.jinsphys.2003.10.001

Smith, B.C. (1999). Infrared spectral interpretation: a systematic approach. Publisher: CRC Press, E.U.A. pp. 288; ISBN: 9780849324635

Solís, C.R. & Strassmann, J.E. (1990). Presence of brood affects caste differentiation in the social wasp, Polistes exclamans Viereck (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Functional Ecology, 4: 531-541. doi: 10.2307/2389321

Soares, E.R.P., Torres, V.O. & Antonialli-Junior, W.F. (2014). Reproductive status of females in the eusocial wasp Polistes ferreri Saussure (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Neotropical Entomology, 43: 500–508. doi: 10.1007/s13744-014-0242-9

Tannure-Nascimento, I.C., Nascimento, F.S., Turatti, I.C., Lopes, N.P., Trigo, J.R. & Zucchi, R. (2007). Colony membership is reflected by variations in cuticular hydrocarbon profile in a Neotropical paper wasp, Polistes satan (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Genetics and Molecular Research, 6: 390-396.

Tibbetts, E.A. & Huang, Z.Y. (2010). The challenge hypothesis in an insect: Juvenile hormone increases during reproductive conflict following queen loss in Polistes wasps. The American Naturalist, 176: 123-130. doi: 10.1086/653664

Torres, V.O., Sguarizi-Antonio, D., Lima, S.M., Andrade, L.H.C. & Antonialli-Junior, W.F. (2014). Reproductive status of the social wasp Polistes versicolor (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Sociobiology, 61: 218–224. doi: 10.13102/sociobiology.v61i2.218-224

Weaver, N. (1966). Physiology of caste determination. Annual Review of Entomology, 11: 79-102. doi: 10.1146/annurev.en.11.010166.000455

Weiss, I., Hofferberth, J., Ruther, J. & Stokl, J. (2015). Varying importance of cuticular hydrocarbons and iridoids in the species-specific mate recognition pheromones of three closely related Leptopilina species. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 3: 1–12. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2015.00019

Zarbin, P.H.G., Rodrigues, M.A.C.M. & Lima, E.R. (2009). Feromônios de insetos: tecnologias e desafios para uma agricultura competitiva no Brasil. Química Nova, 32: 722-731. doi: 10.1590/S0100-40422009000300016

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v67i3.4366


  • There are currently no refbacks.



JCR Impact Factor (2019): 0.690

JCR 5-year Impact Factor (2019): 0.846

Google Scholar h5-index (Insects and Arthropods journals): 12 

Scimago h-index (whole journal circulation period): 37         

Scopus CiteScore (2016-2019): 0.90


Sociobiology is indexed in the following databases: