Sexually Deceptive Chemistry: Beetle larvae fake the scent of female bees

3:18pm, September 13, 2006

Researchers can now explain how a male bee looking for love out in the desert can be misguided enough to embrace a writhing clump of beetle larvae instead of a female bee.

Those larvae, which grow into blister beetles, release compounds similar to the sex pheromone of the female bee, says ecologist Leslie S. Saul-Gershenz of the Center for Ecosystem Survival in San Francisco. When the deluded male touches the beetle clump, larvae rush onto his body. They use him as an air taxi to reach a female and then raid her underground nursery.

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