n African Entomology - Recruitment behaviour in the ponerine ant, F. Smith (Hymenoptera : Formicidae)




Although workers of laid trails with their stings while foraging, the trails appeared to be for individual orientation, because they never recruited nestmates to prey. However, both workers and queens laid trails when recruiting nestmates of either caste to new nest sites. During trail-laying, fluted hairs on the posterior edge of tergite VI were dragged along the ground, presumably applying a pheromone to the substrate. Anatomical and behavioural evidence suggests that pygidial gland secretions moved from the intersegmental pygidial gland between tergites VI and VII into a fingerprint-like, lamellar cuticular reservoir on the pygidium, and from there the hairs to the substrate. These results suggest that recruitment may be crucial to moving nests but of value only to certain types of foraging, and that recruitment might even have originated in the Formicidae in the context of colony relocation, and then secondarily evolved to assist foraging.


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