Although workers in many ant species are capable of producing their own offspring, they generally rear the queen’s offspring instead. There are various mechanisms that regulate worker reproduction including inhibitory effects of ant brood. Colonies of the ant Novomessor cockerelli are monogynous and polydomous resulting in a large portion of nest workers being physically isolated from the queen for extended periods of time. Some workers experimentally isolated from the queen in laboratory nests lay viable eggs, which develop into males.We investigate the mechanismthat regulates worker fertility in subnests separated from the queen by giving queenless worker groups queen-produced larvae, queenproduced eggs, or no brood. Our findings show that larvae delay the time to worker egg-laying, but eggs have no effect. Larval inhibition is a likely mechanism that contributes to the regulation of worker reproduction in N. cockerellli because larvae are easily transported to subnests that do not contain a queen.
- Eusocial insects
- Larval regulation
- Reproductive regulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics