Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 369–380 | Cite as

Memory and chemical communication in the orientation of two mass-recruiting ant species

  • S. Aron
  • R. Beckers
  • J. L. Deneubourg
  • J. M. Pasteels
Research Articles


The relative contribution of visual and chemical components in the orientation ofLasius niger andIridomyrmex humilis (Argentine ant) workers during mass recruitment to newly discovered food sources is analyzed over short time intervals. While both species orient in response to the trail pheromone, a large number ofL. niger foragers rapidly switch to a more individual orientation, based on their memory of environmental cues.I. humilis workers, on the other hand, predominantly use collective chemical cues. The effect of the number of reinforcements on visual learning and its interference with chemical communication show that olfactory cues always prevail in the Argentine ant. InL. niger, the proportion of ants orienting to visual cues is independent of the trail concentration. Detailed observations of the trail-laying behavior of individually marked foragers show that nearly all theI. humilis workers initially lay a trail, whereas only half theL. niger foragers do so. This proportion decreases considerably with the number of trips performed byL. niger workers, while remaining constant for the Argentine ants. These results are interpreted with respect to the species' behavioral ecology.

Key words

Orientation individual memory chemical communication Formicidae 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Aron
    • 1
  • R. Beckers
    • 2
  • J. L. Deneubourg
    • 2
  • J. M. Pasteels
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Biologie Animale et CellulaireBelgium
  2. 2.Service de Chimie-Physique IIUniversité Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium

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