How an ant decides to prey on or to attend aphids
The following results on the behavior decision making of the antLasius niger toward two species of myrmecophilous aphidsLachnus tropicalis andMyzocallis kuricola on chestnut trees have been found. (1) An individual worker consistently attended only one aphid species, even if her nestmates attended other aphid species on the same tree. (2) The ants preyed less on the aphid species which they attended than on other myrmecophilous aphid species. (3) The ants preyed less on the aphids which had been attended by their nestmates, even if both aphids were the same species. (4) The ants preyed less on aphids which had provided honeydew to their nestmates. (5) The increased aphid density per ant led to an increase in the rate of predation on the introduced aphids by the ants. These results suggest that each worker ofL. niger chooses aphid species to attend from her experience. In addition, the workers can recognize whether an aphid has been attended by their nestmates and whether an aphid has given their nestmates honeydew. Through these processes, each worker decides to attend or to prey on the aphid. As a result, they may realize efficient collective foraging dependent on aphid density per worker.