Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 44, Issue 9, pp 785–795 | Cite as

Pheromones Regulating Reproduction in Subsocial Beetles: Insights with References to Eusocial Insects

  • Sandra SteigerEmail author
  • Johannes Stökl
Review Article


Beetles have evolved diverse strategies to cope with environmental challenges. Although parents of the vast majority of beetle species do not take care of their offspring, there are some species, in which parents provide elaborate post-hatching care and remain temporarily associated with their offspring to defend them from competitors or to provision them with food. Usually, socially induced reproductive “control” is a core feature of eusocial societies, but here we highlight that already in small family groups, socially induced reproductive regulation can play a fundamental role. By discussing the family life of burying beetles, we illustrate the mechanisms behind such a reproductive “control” and show that – similar to eusocial insects – pheromones can be an important regulating factor. However, apart from burying beetles, our knowledge of pheromones or other signals mediating reproductive regulation is surprisingly rudimentary for social beetles. More data are required to broaden our currently patchy picture.


Family life Fertility signal Parental care Nicrophorus Anti-aphrodisiac Juvenile hormone 



We thank Etya Amsalem and Abraham Hefetz for inviting us to contribute this review. We acknowledge funding provided by the German Research Foundation (DFG) to SS (STE 1874/3-3 and STE 1874/7-1) and to JS (STO 966/2-1), and by the HMWK via the LOEWE Center for Insect Biotechnology and Bioresources.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Insect BiotechnologyJustus-Liebig-University of GießenGießenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Evolutionary Animal EcologyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  3. 3.Department of Applied EntomologyUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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