Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 61, Issue 8, pp 1143–1149

Worker policing and nest mate recognition in the ant Formica fusca

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-006-0327-5

Cite this article as:
Helanterä, H. & Sundström, L. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2007) 61: 1143. doi:10.1007/s00265-006-0327-5


A conflict over male production arises in social insects where workers are able to lay unfertilized male eggs. This happens because each female (queen or worker) is most closely related to her own sons and is thus predicted to reproduce. The conflict is modulated by worker policing where workers prevent each other from reproducing by aggression or egg cannibalism. In this study, we show that in the ant Formica fusca, worker policing occurs by egg cannibalism rather than by overt aggression among workers. Furthermore, we show that, contrary to bees, wasps and other ant species, egg discrimination in F. fusca is not based only on a universal queen signature chemical and that nest mate recognition of eggs occurs.


Formica Hymenoptera Worker policing Social conflict Nest mate recognition Social insect 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, Department of Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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