Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 935–945 | Cite as

Queen Sex Pheromone of the Slave-making Ant, Polyergus breviceps

  • Les Greenberg
  • Armin G. Tröger
  • Wittko Francke
  • J. Steven McElfresh
  • Howard Topoff
  • Ali Aliabadi
  • Jocelyn G. Millar


Workers of the slave-making ant, Polyergus breviceps, raid nests of Formica ants and return with Formica pupae that mature into worker ants in the slave-makers’ colony. These Formica workers then tend the Polyergus brood, workers, and reproductives. During raids in the mating season, winged virgin Polyergus queens accompany the workers in the raiding columns. During the raid, the virgin queens release a pheromone that attracts males that quickly mate with the queens. We report the identification, synthesis, and bioassay of the sex attractant pheromone of the queens as an approximately 1:6 ratio of (R)-3-ethyl-4-methylpentan-1-ol and methyl 6-methylsalicylate. The ants produce exclusively the (R)-enantiomer of the alcohol, and the (S)-enantiomer has no biological activity, neither inhibiting nor increasing attraction to blends of methyl 6-methylsalicylate with the (R)-enantiomer.


Polyergus breviceps Queen sex pheromone Methyl 6-methylsalicylate (R)-3-ethyl-4-methylpentan-1-ol Ant Formicidae Hymenoptera 



This work was supported in part by Hatch Act funding to J.G.M., #CA-R*ENT-5181-H.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Les Greenberg
    • 1
  • Armin G. Tröger
    • 2
  • Wittko Francke
    • 2
  • J. Steven McElfresh
    • 1
  • Howard Topoff
    • 3
  • Ali Aliabadi
    • 1
  • Jocelyn G. Millar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA
  2. 2.Institut fur Organische Chemie und BiochemieUniversität HamburgHamburgGermany
  3. 3.PortalUSA

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