Data from: Striking cuticular hydrocarbon dimorphism in the mason wasp Odynerus spinipes and its possible evolutionary cause (Hymenoptera: Chrysididae, Vespidae)
Wurdack, Mareike et al. (2015), Data from: Striking cuticular hydrocarbon dimorphism in the mason wasp Odynerus spinipes and its possible evolutionary cause (Hymenoptera: Chrysididae, Vespidae), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1d63s
Cleptoparasitic wasps and bees smuggle their eggs into the nest of a host organism. Here the larvae of the cleptoparasite feed upon the food provision intended for the offspring of the host. As cleptoparasitism incurs a loss of fitness for the host organism (offspring of the host fail to develop), hosts of cleptoparasites are expected to exploit cues that alert them to potential cleptoparasite infestation. Cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) could serve as such cues, as insects inevitably leave traces of them behind when entering a nest. By mimicking the host’s CHC profile, cleptoparasites can conceal their presence and evade detection by their host. Previous studies have provided evidence of cleptoparasites mimicking their host's CHC profile. However, the impact of this strategy on the evolution of the host's CHC profile has remained unexplored. Here, we present results from our investigation of a host-cleptoparasite system consisting of a single mason wasp species that serves syntopically as the host to three cuckoo wasp species. We found that the spiny mason wasp (Odynerus spinipes) is able to express two substantially different CHC profiles, each of which is seemingly mimicked by a cleptoparasitic cuckoo wasp (i.e., Chrysis mediata and Pseudospinolia neglecta). The CHC profile of the third cuckoo wasp (Chrysis viridula), a species not expected to benefit from mimicking its host's CHC profile due to its particular oviposition strategy, differs from the two CHC profiles of its host. Our results corroborate the idea that the similarity of the CHC profiles between cleptoparasitic cuckoo wasps and their hosts are the result of chemical mimicry. They further suggest that cleptoparasites may represent a hitherto unappreciated force that drives the evolution of their hosts' CHCs.