Natures wonders: wasp alarm pheramones (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 06, 2015, 00:26 (1634 days ago) @ David Turell

Wasps protect their nests by identifying enemies with pheromones which allows a whole swarm of wasps to identify and attack:

"Social insects invest a lot of work and resources in their colonies, working together to raise large numbers of larvae. Because their nests contain so many protein-rich, yet helpless young, they have evolved elaborate defence mechanisms to protect them.

"One way the social wasps have found to increase the efficiency of their defence is through chemical signals, called alarm pheromones, which are used to rouse the colony to action and mark intruders for attack. As a result, the coordinated attack of a large colony of yellow jackets can drive even large predators away from the nest. Several social wasp alarm pheromones have been discovered, and most of these have been detected in the venom sacs of the wasps.


"The scientist have used this new method to figure whether three species of yellow jackets (the western yellow jacket, the common yellow jacket and the German yellow jacket) have alarm pheromones, and whether each species is able to recognize each of the alarm pheromones of the rest.

"'We found evidence for alarm pheromones in all three species, and that each species recognizes and responds to the other species' alarm pheromones in similar ways," say the researchers. "We conclude that the chemical messages produced by these three yellow jacket species must be very similar."

"'It makes sense that wasps can recognize the alarm pheromones of other species, because it would be advantageous to be able to detect a pheromone-marked predator that has attacked other wasps nearby and start stinging it to drive it away before it finds their own colony," conclude the authors."

Comment: The wasps developed two specific useful fluids. No explanation of how this evolved.

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