Individual recognition cues were manipulated to elucidate the system of nestmate recognition employed by the introduced European paper wasp, Polistes dominulus. Tests involved exposing P. dominulus individuals to their natal nest material, to which we added a novel hydrocarbon, pentacosanoic acid methyl ester, or exposing them to the artificial odor alone. Results show that P. dominulus (1) performs nestmate discrimination, (2) can use artificial exogenous chemicals as recognition odors, and (3) can distinguish single differences in hydrocarbon profiles. Taken individually, these experiments provide evidence revealing the nature of the production and action components of recognition. Taken together, these results establish that recognition takes place outside the classical definition of a pheromone-based system.
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