Insect queens sterilize workers with similar chemical | Science News


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Insect queens sterilize workers with similar chemical

A queen wasp returns to her nest. She and other queen ants and bees release similar chemicals to keep their workers sterile.

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Queen ants, bees and wasps all release similar chemicals to quash the reproduction of their workers.

When exposed to chemicals called saturated hydrocarbons that mimick the queen’s scent, the worker insects’ ovaries degraded. In the absence of the queen's scent, the workers' reproductive organs developed quickly. A closer look at the compounds suggests that insects may have been using them to signal fertility for roughly 150 million years, researchers report January 16 in Science

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