, Volume 90, Issue 7, pp 318–321 | Cite as

Sumo wrestling in ants: major workers fight over male production in Acanthomyrmex ferox

  • Bruno Gobin
  • Fuminori Ito
Short Communication


In the myrmicine ant Acanthomyrmex ferox, major workers have the same number of ovarioles as queens, thrice that of minor workers, making them well suited for egg-laying. In the queen's presence, infrequent aggression allows ranking of majors but they lay only unviable trophic eggs. Major workers engage each other, but not the minors, in antennal boxing and spectacular shaking contests, a novel interaction in ants. The absence of reversals allows a clear ranking of major workers. After queen removal, aggression becomes very frequent, but previous ranking is maintained. All majors start laying reproductive eggs although they show a skew in ovary development according to ranking. The dominant major, however, actively patrols the egg-pile and cannibalises eggs laid by subordinates.


Minor Worker Ovary Development Agonistic Interaction Major Worker Queenright Coloni 
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.



We thank R. Hashim of the University of Malaya for permitting fieldwork at the Ulu Gombak field station. JSPS (T98.167) and Monbusho (08041136, 11691130) grants supported this work. B.G. is a postdoctoral fellow of the Fund for Scientific Research, Flanders.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of EntomologyKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Faculty of AgricultureKagawa UniversityIkenobeJapan

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