Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 1–17 | Cite as

Behavioural Interactions Between Crematogaster brevispinosa rochai Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and Two Nasutitermes Species (Isoptera: Termitidae)

  • Y. QuinetEmail author
  • N. Tekule
  • J. C. de Biseau


In the savanna-like Brazilian biome “caatinga,“ the arboreal and polydomous ant Crematogaster brevispinosa rochai can be found cohabiting with two closely related Nasutitermes species (N. corniger and N. ephratae). This ant occupies variably sized portions of the termite nests and maintains a physical separation with its hosts by plugging the cells of the boundary areas with fibrous material. Although all the analysed cohabiting C. b. rochai nests were queenless, they always contained brood, especially from male and female reproductive castes. Interaction experiments between workers of C. b. rochai and workers or soldiers of N. ephratae revealed a low level of aggressiveness between the two species that contrasts with the aggressiveness of both C. b. rochai and N. ephratae in encounters with other ant (Azteca cf. chartifex, Cephalotes pusillus) or termite (M. cf. indistinctus) species. The association could benefit both ants (additional nesting sites, brood rearing places) and termites (protection against predators, dead ants or ant refuses as source of nitrogen).

ant-termite interactions Formicidae Isoptera Crematogaster brevispinosa rochai Nasutitermes 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bolton, B. (1995a). A New General Catalogue of the Ants of the World, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  2. Bolton, B. (1995b). A taxonomic and zoogeographical census of the extant ant taxa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. Nat. Hist. 29: 1037–1056.Google Scholar
  3. Braekman, J. C., Daloze, D., Dupont, A., Pasteels, J. M., Lefeuve, P., Borderau, C., Declercq, J. P., and Van Meerssche, M. (1983). Chemical composition of the frontal gland secretion from soldiers of Nasutitermes lujae (Termitidae: Nasutermitinae). Tetrahedron 39: 4237–4241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bugnion, E. (1927). The origin of instinct, a study of the war between the ants and the termites. Monographs No. 1, Londres.Google Scholar
  5. Darlington, J. P. E. C. (1985). Attacks by Doryline ants and termites nest defences (Hymenoptera: Formicinae, Isoptera: Termitidae). Sociobiology 11: 189–200.Google Scholar
  6. Dejean, A., and Fénéron, R. (1999). Predatory behaviour in the ponerine ant, Centromyrmex bequaerti: A case of termitolesty. Behav. Processes 47: 125–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Delabie, J. H. C. (1995). Inquilinismo simultâneo de duas espécies de Centromyrmex (Hymenoptera: Formicinae: Ponerinae) em cupinzeiros de Syntermes sp. (Isoptera: Termitidae: Nasutiterminae). Revta Bras. Ent. 39: 605–609.Google Scholar
  8. Deligne, J., Quennedey, A., and Blum, M. S. (1981). The enemies and defense mechanisms of termites. In Hermann, H. R. (ed.), Social Insects. Volume II, Academic Press, New York, pp. 1–76.Google Scholar
  9. Eggleton, P. (2000). Global patterns of termite diversity. In Abe, T., (eds.), Termites: Evolution, Sociality, Symbioses, Ecology, Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 25–51.Google Scholar
  10. Gray, B. (1974). Associated fauna found in nest of Myrmecia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insectes Sociaux 21: 289–300.Google Scholar
  11. Hervier, B., Josens, G., Deligne, J., Terwinghe, E., and Verbanck, J. (2001). Etudes des structures internes des nids de termites par analyse d’image. Actes Coll. Insectes Sociaux. 14: 45–49.Google Scholar
  12. Higashi, S., and Ito, F. (1989). Defense of termitaria by termitophilous ants. Oecologia 80: 145–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hölldobler, B., and Wilson, E. G. (1990). The Ants, Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  14. Howard, R. W., Me Daniel, C. A., and Blomquist, G. J. (1980). Chemical chemistry as an integrating mechanism: cuticular hydrocarbons of a termitophile and its host. Science 210: 431–433.Google Scholar
  15. Jaffe, K., Ramos, C., and Issa, S. (1995). Trophic interactions between ants and termites that share common nests. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 88: 328–333.Google Scholar
  16. Kambhampati, S., and Eggleton, P. (2000). Taxonomy and phylogeny of termites. In Abe, T., (eds.), Termites: Evolution, Sociality, Symbioses, Ecology, Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 1–23.Google Scholar
  17. Leclercq, S., Braekman, J. C., Daloze, D., de Biseau, J. C., Pasteels, J. M., Quinet, Y., Luhmer, M., and Sundin, A. (2000). Furanocembrenoid Diterpenes as Defensive Compounds in the Dufour’s Gland of the Ant Crematogaster brevispinosa rochai. Tetrahedron 56: 2037–2042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lemaire, M., Lange, C., Lefevre, J., and Clement, J.-L. (1986). Strategie de camouflage du prédateur Hypoponera eduardi dans les sociétés de Reticuliternies européens. Actes Coll. Insectes Sociaux. 2: 97–101.Google Scholar
  19. Lenoir, A., D’ettore, P., Errard, C., and Hefetz, A. (2001). Chemical ecology and social parasitism in ants. Ann. Rev. Entomol. 46: 573–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lepage, M. G. (1981). Etude de la prédation de Megaponera foetens sur les populations récoltantes de Macrotermitinae dans un écosystème semi-aride (Kajiado—Kenya). Insectes Sociaux 28: 247–262.Google Scholar
  21. Leponce, M., Roisin, Y., and Pasteels, J. M. (1999). Community interactions betweens ants and arboreal-nesting termites in New Guinea coconut plantations. Insectes Sociaux 46: 126–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Longhurst, C., Johnson, R. A., and Wood, T. G. (1978). Predation by Megaponerafoetens (Fabr.) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on termites in the southern Guinea savanna, Nigeria. Oecologia 32: 101–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Longhurst, C., Johnson, R. A., and Wood, T. G. (1979). Foraging, recruitment and predation by Decamorium nelense (Santchi) (Formicidae: Myrmicinae) on termites in the southern Guinea savanna, Nigeria. Oecologia 38: 83–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Longino, J. T. (2003). The Crematogaster (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Myrmicinae) of Costa Rica. Zootaxa 151: 1–150.Google Scholar
  25. de Marneffe, V. (1999). Etude comparative de l’utilisation de la sécrétion défensive de deux espèces de Crematogaster brésiliennes. Mémoire de Licence - Université Libre de Bruxelles.Google Scholar
  26. Noirot, C., and Darlington, J. P. E. C. (2000). Termites nests: architecture, regulation and defence. In Abe, T., (eds.), Termites: Evolution, Sociality, Symbioses, Ecology, Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 121–39.Google Scholar
  27. Richard, F. J., Fabre, A., and Dejean, A. (2001). Predatory behaviour in dominant arboreal ant species: The case of Crematogaster sp. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. Insect Behav. 14: 271–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rosengaus, R. B., Lefevre, M. L., and Traniello, J. F. A. (2000). Inhibition of fungal spore germination by Nasutitermes: Evidence for a possible antiseptic role of soldier defensive secretion. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 26: 21–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sennepin, A. (1996). Fonctions synergiques des interactions termites/fourmis. Actes Coll. Insectes Sociaux 10: 133–145.Google Scholar
  30. Sennepin, A. (1999). Symbioses entre fourmis et termites: structures et implications. Actes Coll. Insectes Sociaux 12: 181–190.Google Scholar
  31. Shelton, T. G., Vogt, J. T., and Appel, G. (1999). Natives termites inhabiting red imported fire ant mounds. Highlights of Agricultural Research. aaes/information/highlights/summer99/ants.html.Google Scholar
  32. Sheppe, W. (1970). Invertebrate predation on termites of the African savanna. Insectes Sociaux 17: 205–218.Google Scholar
  33. Soulié, J. (1960). La “sociabilité” des Crematogaster (Hymenoptera: Formicoidea). Insectes Sociaux 7: 369–376.Google Scholar
  34. Vauchot, B., Provost, E., Bagneres, A. G., and Clement, J. L. (1996). Regulation of the chemical signature of two species, Reticulitermes santonensis and Reticuliiermes lucifugus grassei, living in mixed experimental colonies. J. Insect Physiol. 42: 309–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wheeler, W. M. (1936). Ecological relations of Ponerinae and other ants to termites. Proc. Am. Acad. Arts Sc 71: 159–243.Google Scholar
  36. Wilson, E. (1971). The Insect Societies, The Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratório de EntomologiaUniversidade Estadual do CearáFortaleza-CearáBrazil
  2. 2.Service d’Eco-éthologie évolutiveUniversité Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium

Personalised recommendations