Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 1479-1492

First online:

The Chemistry of Exploding Ants, Camponotus SPP. (Cylindricus COMPLEX)

  • T. H. JonesAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington
  • , D. A. ClarkAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington
  • , A. A. EdwardsAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Universiti Brunei Darussalam
  • , D. W. DavidsonAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Utah
  • , T. F. SpandeAffiliated withLaboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry, NIH, NIDDK
  • , R. R. SnellingAffiliated withEntomology Division, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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A detailed comparative analysis of the exocrine chemistry of nine Bruneian Camponotus species in the cylindricus complex is reported. Workers of these species are known to have hypertrophied mandibular glands and release their glandular contents suicidally from the head by rupturing the inter- segmental membrane of the gaster. All of the species produce mixtures of polyacetate-derived aromatics, including hydroxyacetophenones, which display pH-dependent color changes, and aliphatic hydrocarbons and alcohols. In addition, three species contained (6R)-2,6-dimethyl-(2E)-octen-1,8-dioic acid (9) or (3S)-8-hydroxycitro-nellic acid (10a), previously unreported from insects. These compounds were characterized from their spectral data, and confirmed by comparison with synthetic samples. The allomonal role of these compounds is based on numerous field observations, and their chemotaxonomic value is presented.

Camponotus spp. Hymenoptera Formicidae polyacetate-derived aromatics acyclic terpenes chemotaxonomy territoriality autothysis