Encyclopedia of Social Insects

Living Edition
| Editors: Christopher Starr


  • Abdullahi A. YusufEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90306-4_5-1

Allomones are communication compounds that function in interspecific communication. They fall within the broad classes of chemical signals referred to as allelochemicals or allelomones. On contact with an individual of another species, an allomone evokes a behavioral and/or a physiological response in the receiver [4, 5, 6]. Allomones are of benefit to the releaser, usually to the detriment of the receiver. However, in some cases, they may also benefit the receiver by forestalling a poisoning or other deleterious result.

Different types of behaviors are mediated by allomones. Key among these are their roles as defensive secretions against predators or other natural enemies, such as the formic acid sprayed by formicine ants and the venom from many social wasps, social bees, and ants.

A classic example representing the reverse of protection by a host using allomones is seen in the obligate bumble-bee social parasite Bombus norvegicus. Females of B. norvegicus uses dodecyl acetate (Fig. 1...
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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Insects Research Group (SIRG)University of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa