Orientation of Polyergus rufescens (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) during slave-making raids

University of Florence, Florens, Tuscany, Italy
Animal Behaviour (Impact Factor: 3.14). 01/1998; 54(6):1425-1438. DOI: 10.1006/anbe.1997.0569
Source: PubMed


We investigated the factors involved in the orientation of raiders of the European Amazon ant, Polyergus rufescensand how these factors are used by raiders during the different phases of slave-making expeditions. Ants at the head of the raiding column did not follow previously deposited chemical trails but oriented by celestial cues. Raiders in the middle of the column used celestial factors but were also strongly affected by the recruiting activity of the ants that preceded them. During the return trip, raiders used both chemical and celestial cues. The latter allowed the ants to assume the correct home direction while following the chemical trail. Perception of the ultraviolet band of the light spectrum was of crucial importance for the orientation of the raiders, during both the outbound and inbound journeys. This supports the hypothesis that P. rufescens workers, like other ants, perceive the pattern of polarized skylight in the ultraviolet range.Copyright 1997 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour

Download full-text


Available from: Donato Antonio Grasso
  • Source
    • "Populations of this species are widespread along the northern and central part of the Italian peninsula. Although the main features of its parasitic lifestyle are the raiding behaviour and the dependent colony founding through usurpation (Mori et al., 2001), several other aspects of its morphology, biology, ecology, and behaviour can be related to its nature as a social parasite (Hçlldobler and Wilson, 1990; Le Moli et al., 1994; Grasso et al., 1997, 2005; Billen et al., 2001). For instance, its mating behaviour is an example of " Female-calling Syndrome " (Hçlldobler and Bartz, 1985), a strategy in which females typically call for males, do not disperse widely, and remain near a conspecific colony after mating (Mori et al., 1994). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The aim of the research reported here was to determine whether 3-ethyl-4-methylpentanol, a minor but crucial component of the sex pheromone of the North American slave-making ant species Polyergus breviceps, was also a component of the sex pheromone of the European congener Polyergus rufescens. Thus, the contents of mandibular glands of P. rufescens virgin queen were extracted and analysed. The main component of the extracts was methyl 6-methylsalicylate and 3-ethyl-4-methylpentanol was identified as one of several minor components. Further analyses showed that the insects produce mainly the (R)-enantiomer of the alcohol. Males’ responses to various blends of methyl 6-methylsalicylate with the racemate or the pure enantiomers of 3-ethyl-4- methylpentanol were tested in field behavioural bioassays. The data showed that blends of methyl 6- methylsalicylate and 3-ethyl-4-methylpentanol were strongly synergistic, with the most active ratios being biased toward the first component. The addition of other minor components to the binary blend neither increased nor decreased responses by males. Only the (R)-enantiomer of the alcohol was biologically active; its antipode did not inhibit attraction. The results are discussed in terms of the evolution of signals, and are compared with the results previously obtained for the allopatric species Polyergus breviceps.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2008 · Insectes Sociaux
  • Source
    • "Perception of the ultraviolet band of the light spectrum is of crucial importance for the orientation of the raiders, during both the outbound and inbound journeys. This supports the hypothesis that P. rufescens workers, like other ant species, perceive the pattern of polarized skylight in the ultraviolet range (Grasso et al., 1997). Concerning the chemical trail, recent laboratory experiments showed that the glands involved in the nestmates' recruitment and in the trail laying are the Dufour's gland and the hindgut, respectively (Visicchio, 2000). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Summary: In the European slave-making ant Polyergus rufescens, the occurrence of chemical strategies during the initial phase of dependent colony foundation or usurpation was investigated. To test this idea, we analysed the effect of the secretion of different glands (Dufour's, poison, pygidial, rectal, and mandibular) on the behaviour of workers of its common host species, Formica cunicularia (subgenus Serviformica). Workers of another species, Formica rufibarbis (Serviformica), were daubed with these extracts, and introduced into colony fragments of F. cunicularia. The results of a set of laboratory aggression test showed that the secretion of the mandibular, pygidial, rectal, and poison glands do not alter the characteristic aggressive reactions generally performed by resident workers against alien ants. By contrast, the Dufour's gland seems to play a crucial role in the appeasement of residents of the target host colony. In fact, its secretion drastically lowers the degree of overt attacks shown by F. cunicularia workers against the intruders. This chemical strategy probably allows an easier invasion and usurpation of host colonies by newly mated females of P. rufescens.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2000 · Insectes Sociaux
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In this paper we report the results of a detailed study on the behavioral ecology of slave raiding and foraging activity in the European blood-red ant, Formica sanguinea Latr. The field study was conducted over an unbroken period of 78 days, during which the activity of two dulotic colonies of this facultative slave-maker was observed for 10 h each day. It was possible to observe 26 raids distributed over 23 days, among which 18 were followed by the sacking of nests belonging to the species F. cunicularia, F. fusca, and Lasius emarginatus, whereas 8 failed. Simple, continuous, and simultaneous raids occurred. We recorded the timing, frequency, distance, and direction of slave raids, including the number of participants and the type of booty. Particular attention was devoted to the scouting behavior and raiding organization. Moreover, every day, we observed foraging and predatory behavior, during which adult insects (mainly ants), seeds, and berries were retrieved to the dulotic colonies. On the basis of our observations F. sanguinea seems to be a very efficient slave-maker and predatory species of the Raptiformica subgenus. Moreover, its dulotic behavior may be regarded as a continuation and an expansion of its foraging and predatory behavior, as predicted by Darwin's hypothesis for the origin and evolution of slavery in ants.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2000 · Journal of Insect Behavior
Show more