Pygidial gland chemistry and potential alarm-recruitment function in column foraging, but not solitary, Nearctic Messor harvesting ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae)

Berthold Hoelldobler, Nicola J R Plowes, Robert A. Johnson, Upul Nishshanka, Chongming Liu, Athula B. Attygalle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

We investigated the role of the pygidial gland on foraging behavior in two ecologically dominant column foraging Nearctic harvesting ants (Messor pergandei and Messor andrei). Using chemical analyses and behavioral tests, we show that n-tridecane is the major biologically active compound of pygidial gland secretions in both species, and that this chemical functions as a powerful alarm-recruitment pheromone. Another major compound of pygidial gland contents is benzaldehyde; this substance does not release behavioral reactions in M. pergandei workers but might function as a defensive secretion. Six solitary foraging Nearctic Messor and two column foraging Palearctic Messor species, did not have large pygidial gland reservoirs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)863-869
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of insect physiology
Volume59
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013

Keywords

  • Column formation
  • Harvester ants
  • N-Tridecane
  • Tergal glands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science

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