oa African Entomology - Factors eliciting stridulation by the ponerine ant Streblognathus aethiopicus Smith (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)



Workers of Streblognathus aethiopicus Smith stridulated when grasped or when either mammalian breath or carbon dioxide was directed onto them. The ants did not react when subjected to air or nitrogen treatments and only occasionally responded to a stridulating nestmate. The sound produced by individual stridulating ants was analysed using a sonagram, while ablation experiments suggested that carbon dioxide receptors were positioned on the antennae. Scanning electron micrographs were used to examine the stridulatory apparatus and the putative carbon dioxide receptors on the antenna. Stridulation was usually associated with increased ant activity which included the aggressive opening of the mandibles, waving of the antennae and the positioning of the abdomen under the body when ready to sting. Streblognathus aethiopicus appeared to use stridulation to warn potential predators of their presence before they have to protect themselves by means of their powerful mandibles and potent sting. It is proposed that the purpose of sound production by S. aethiopicus is primarily defensive.


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