We tested compounds found in honey bee, Apis mellifera L., sting alarm pheromone for their roles in releasing behavioral responses, with a focus on the relative importance of chemotaxis and motion of the target in the localization response. Some compounds in the blend have specialized functions. Benzyl acetate released only flight behavior, whereas three compounds (1-butanol, 1-octanol, and hexyl acetate) caused only the recruitment response. Other compounds (1-hexanol, butyl acetate, iso-pentyl acetate, and 2-nonanol) acted in more than one behavioral context. Octyl acetate was the most effective compound in allowing bees to locate targets, but did not recruit or release flight behavior. Stationary octyl acetate sources were located by flying bees, indicating that this pheromone component elicits a chemotactic response. However, localization of a target is due primarily to the motion of the target; the alarm pheromone components release searching behavior for a moving object and are relatively unimportant in target localization.
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Vol. 93 • No. 6