Facultative social parasitism has been recorded in several taxa of social insects. Most recently, this phenomenon has been recorded in colonies of the neotropical social wasp Mischocyttarus cerberus (parasitized by Mischocyttarus consimilis). This is the first case of interspecific parasitism described for the genus Mischocyttarus. How social parasites are able to remain in the host colony has been one of the central subjects of studies on this theme. Chemical signals are used by social insects to recognize their nestmates, which suggests that female parasites use a chemical strategy to hide their identity and become accepted as a member in host colonies. This study investigated the dynamics of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHs) of workers of M. consimilis and M. cerberus in both control and host colonies. Fourier Transform Infrared-Photoacoustic Spectroscopy (FTIR-PAS) was used to read the CHs; this technique is somewhat unusual but is quite reliable for this type of study. A stepwise canonical discrimination analysis detected significant differences between the mid-infrared spectra of the two species. This analysis provided a dispersion diagram of the results in order to differentiate the species, in which the first axis explained 61% of the results. These results demonstrated a clear difference in the CHs profile between non-conspecific workers from the control colonies. However, non-conspecific workers from the host colonies underwent a significant modification of CHs in comparison to the workers from the control colonies, and this modification was similar in all the host colonies non-conspecific workers. These data suggest that females of parasitic-specie modify the chemical profile of the host-specie females, and also alter their own profiles in order to be recognized as “nestmates” and to achieve success in parasitism.
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