Host following of an ant associate during nest relocation
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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.
KeywordsMyrmecophile 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.
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)
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