Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 329–332 | Cite as

Host following of an ant associate during nest relocation

  • T. ParmentierEmail author
Short Communication


Ant nests are relatively stable and long-lasting microhabitats that attract a diverse group of arthropods. Particular stressors, however, can trigger ants to relocate their nest to a new site. It is unclear how associated arthropods respond to occasional nest moving of their host. Here, I report field observations which showed that the potentially parasitic larvae of the beetle Clytra quadripunctata follow their red wood ant host during nest relocation, either by crawling on their own or by being carried by the host workers. These observations shed new light on the spatial dynamics between ants and their associates.


Myrmecophile Host-parasite coevolution Chrysomelidae Formicidae Dispersal Symbiont 



This work was supported by Bijzonder Onderzoekfonds Ugent (BOF17/PDO/084 to TP). We thank Agentschap voor Natuur en Bos for permission to conduct field work and sampling in de Hoge Dijken. We are greatly indebted to the helpful comments of two anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

Video S1: A crawling Clytra quadripunctata larva following the host ant migration column to the new nest. Note the transport of adult workers (social carrying) in the ant column, typical behaviour displayed during ant nest relocation (MP4 91638 KB)

Video S2: Clytra quadripunctata carried by the host ant Formica polyctena (MP4 45861 KB)


  1. Akre RD, Rettenmeyer CW (1968) Trail-following by guests of army ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Ecitonini). J Kansas Entomol Soc 41:165–174Google Scholar
  2. Donisthorpe H (1902) The life history of Clythra quadripunctata, L. Trans R Entomol Soc London 50:11–24. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Donisthorpe H (1927) The guests of British ants. G. Routledge and Sons, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Goguen CB, Mathews NE (1996) Nest desertion by blue-gray gnatcatchers in association with brown-headed cowbird parasitism. Anim Behav 52:613–619. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gösswald K (1989) Die waldameise. Band 1 biologische grundlagen, ökologie und verhalten. Aula-Verlag, WiesbadenGoogle Scholar
  6. Hölldobler B (1970) Zur Physiologie der Gast-Wirt-Beziehungen (Myrmecophilie) bei Ameisen II.1 Das Gastverhältnis des imaginalen Atemeles pubicolis Bris. (Col. Staphylinidae) zu Myrmica und Formica (Hym. Formicidae). Z Vgl Physiol 66:215–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hölldobler B, Wilson EO (1990) The ants. Harvard University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lewis SE (1995) Roost fidelity of bats: a review. J Mammal 76:481–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Litte M (1981) Social biology of the polistine wasp Mischocyttarus labiatus: survival in a Colombian rain forest. Smithson Contrib Zool. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mabelis AA (1978) Nest splitting by the red wood ant (Formica polyctena Foerster). Neth J Zool 29:109–125. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. McGlynn TP (2012) The ecology of nest movement in social insects. Annu Rev Entomol 57:291–308. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. McGlynn TP, Carr RA, Carson JH, Buma J (2004) Frequent nest relocation in the ant Aphaenogaster araneoides: resources, competition, and natural enemies. Oikos 106:611–621. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Möglich M, Hölldobler B (1974) Social carrying behavior and division of labor during nest moving in ants. Psyche (Stuttg) 81:219–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Parmentier T, Dekoninck W, Wenseleers T (2014) A highly diverse microcosm in a hostile world: a review on the associates of red wood ants (Formica rufa group). Insectes Soc 61:229–237. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Parmentier T, Dekoninck W, Wenseleers T (2015) Metapopulation processes affecting diversity and distribution of myrmecophiles associated with red wood ants. Basic Appl Ecol 16:553–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Parmentier T, Dekoninck W, Wenseleers T (2016a) Do well-integrated species of an inquiline community have a lower brood predation tendency? A test using red wood ant myrmecophiles. BMC Evol Biol 16:12. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Parmentier T, Bouillon S, Dekoninck W, Wenseleers T (2016b) Trophic interactions in an ant nest microcosm: a combined experimental and stable isotope (δ13C/δ15N) approach. Oikos 125:1182–1192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Wheeler WM (1910) Ants. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Witte V, Janssen R, Eppenstein A, Maschwitz U (2002) Allopeas myrmekophilos (Gastropoda, Pulmonata), the first myrmecophilous mollusc living in colonies of the ponerine army ant Leptogenys distinguenda (Formicidae, Ponerinae). Insectes Soc 49:301–305. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Terrestrial Ecology Unit (TEREC), Department of BiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory of Socioecology and SocioevolutionKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Research Unit of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, Namur Institute of Complex Systems, and Institute of Life, Earth, and the EnvironmentUniversity of NamurNamurBelgium

Personalised recommendations