Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata (2008) 127, 100-107

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Nathan Woodbury and Gerhard Gries (2008)
Amber-colored excreta: a source of arrestment pheromone in firebrats, Thermobia domestica
Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 127 (2), 100-107
Abstract: Female, male, and juvenile firebrats, Thermobia domestica (Packard) (Thysanura: Lepismatidae), employ a pheromone that arrests conspecifics on contact. Paper shelters placed in a T. domestica colony accumulate fecal excreta (= frass) and other insect-derived debris. Such shelters elicit arrestment by conspecifics. However, the definitive source of the arrestment pheromone was not known. We tested the hypothesis that one or more debris components from a T. domestica shelter constitute the source of the arrestment pheromone. In dual-choice, still-air olfactometer experiments, scales, exuviae, antennae, caudal filaments, gregarine parasite cysts, and silk (each intact or macerated) retrieved from shelters and separated for experiments, as well as saliva, hemolymph, and fat body extracted from insects all failed to arrest female T. domestica. Similarly, paper that had been fed upon by insects did not elicit an arrestment response, eliminating insect-altered cellulose as the arrestant pheromone. In contrast, insect-exposed glass significantly arrested females. Moreover, females were significantly arrested by (i) loose, insect-derived debris brushed from shelters, (ii) a frass mixture manually separated from loose debris, and (iii) specific amber-type frass manually separated from the frass mixture. These results lead us to conclude that amber-type frass constitutes the source of at least part of the T. domestica arrestment pheromone.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Gerhard Gries

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Thermobia domestica