Submitted to: Annals of the Entomological Society of America
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2001
Publication Date: 10/1/2001
Citation: HOWARD,R.W., LACHAUD,G., LACHAUD,J.P. 2001. CUTICULAR HYDROCARBONS OF KAPALA SULCIFACIES (CAMERON)(HYMENOPTERA: EUCHARITIDAE) AND ITS HOST, THE PONERINE ANT ECTATOMMA RUIDUM ROGER HYMENOPTERA: FORMICIDAE). ANNALS OF THE ENTOMOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA 94(5):707-716. Interpretive Summary: Many kinds of insects, including a number of ants, are used as effective biocontrol agents against noxious insect pests. Sometimes these biocontrol agents are attacked themselves by other insects, thus lessening their effectiveness. We have studied one such useful ant species and a wasp that attacks it to understand how the wasp manages to attack the ants without being detected. We have focused on an important cue used by almost all insects for species recognition: the mixture of surface waxes found on their body. We have shown that the wasp and the ant share a majority of the wax-like chemicals on their bodies. This finding agrees with other studies we have conducted on wasps that attack stored product pests. Future studies will attempt to use this knowledge to improve the capacity of biocontrol agents to kill pests without being attacked themselves.
Technical Abstract: Cuticular hydrocarbons from the ponerine ant Ectatomma ruidum, and a highly integrated eucharitid myrmecophile, Kapala sulcifacies, associated with it, have been characterized. Ninety hydrocarbons were identified from the ant, 55 hydrocarbons from the female wasp and 54 hydrocarbons from the male wasp. The wasps and ants share 40 hydrocarbons. These shared 40 hydrocarbons represent 92.6% of their hydrocarbon composition for female Kapala, 84.3% for male Kapala and 67.7% for the ants. The wasps have a carbon number range of C27 to C35; the ants have a range of C23 to C35. Behavioral observations indicate that the ants accept the newly emerged adult parasitoids with no evidence of agonistic behavior for a period of time after adult eclosion. The effectiveness of chemical deception wanes with time as young adult Kapala are soon ejected from the nest by transportation by their host. If no means of escape is provided, the ants ultimately attack the parasitoids. The chemical similarities of the cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of the ants and wasps are discussed in the context of the social life of the colony.