Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 178, Issue 2, pp 157–165

Haemolymph sugar levels in a nectar-feeding ant: dependence on metabolic expenditure and carbohydrate deprivation

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00360-007-0207-y

Cite this article as:
Schilman, P.E. & Roces, F. J Comp Physiol B (2008) 178: 157. doi:10.1007/s00360-007-0207-y


In nectar-feeding insects, sugars are an important source of fuel and energy storage. Here, we analyzed the haemolymph sugar levels in foragers of the ant Camponotus rufipes trained to collect nectar from an artificial feeder, and their dependence on the metabolic rate during feeding. The main sugar found was trehalose, followed by glucose and traces of fructose and sucrose. In foragers, trehalose level was independent of their activity and metabolic rate while feeding. Carbohydrate deprivation of the colony had a strong effect on the haemolymph sugar levels of workers, with a significant decrease in trehalose and glucose with increasing starvation. We also found a correlation between haemolymph sugar levels and behavioral states, with immobile workers having higher trehalose and fructose levels than active ones. It is suggested that under food deprivation, inside-nest workers initially stay completely immobile as a strategy to save energy, and only become active and start to search for food when the trehalose levels decrease even more. Based on a conservative estimation, well-fed ants could travel up to 500 m, or spend more than 20 h inactive at 25°C, using only the energy provided by the haemolymph trehalose, before reaching the levels found in starved nest-mates.


Camponotus rufipes Trehalose Glucose Fructose Sucrose 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lehrstuhl für Zoologie IITheodor-Boveri-Institut der Universität WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of California at San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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