Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 79–81 | Cite as

Foaming in Pachycondyla: A new defense mechanism in ants

  • Ulrich Maschwitz
  • Karla Jessen
  • Eleonore Maschwitz


When disturbed, two species of Malayan Pachycondyla release foam threads more than 10 cm in length or foam piles. The source of the proteinaceous foam is the enlarged venom gland, which is probably frothed up by air from the spiracles of the spiracular plates. The Dufour's gland normally producing hydrocarbons in stinging ants is atrophied. Therefore, absence of the Dufour's gland could be essential to the foaming ability, since the lipophilic hydrocarbons inhibit froth production in protein solutions. The release of foam is a mechanically acting defense mechanism, which is very effective against small mass-attacking ants. Pachycondyla species are also able to sting effectively.


Hydrocarbon Defense Mechanism Protein Solution Venom Gland Froth Production 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich Maschwitz
    • 1
  • Karla Jessen
    • 1
  • Eleonore Maschwitz
    • 1
  1. 1.Fachbereich Biologie-Zoologie, der J.W. Goethe-UniversitätFrankfurt/MGermany

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