Skip to main content

Foraging dynamics in the group-hunting myrmicine ant,Pheidologeton diversus

Abstract

Pheidologeton diversus workers group-hunt (that is, search for food in raiding groups) and are in this way remarkably convergent with army ants (Dorylinae and Ecitoninae). Raids appear usually to take independent courses and are capable of tracking areas of high food density. However, raid advance is not dependent on continual food discovery at the raid front, since raids can advance over areas without food. Most raids extend from trunk trails, which originate when the basal trail of a raid remains in use even after the original raid has ceased. Trunk trails can last at least as long as 10 weeks, with the terrain and the distance to the nest influencing the trail stability. Territories are limited to the trail systems, with rich food items in particular being vigorously defended. Group hunting permits P. diversus to quickly harvest booty, usurp foods from competing species, and capture large prey. This strategy is compared with the raiding strategies of other ants. I hypothesize that group hunting originated from an ancestor which hunted solitarily from trunk trails through the acceleration of trail production and reduction in worker autonomy.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Baroni Urbani, C., and Kutter, N. (1979). Première analyse biométrique du polymorphisme de la caste ouvrière chez les fourmis du genrePheidologeton (Hymenoptera: Aculeata).Bull. Soc. Entomol. Suisse 52: 377–389.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bequaert, J. (1922). The predaceous enemies of ants.Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 271–332.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bingham, C. T. (1903). Hymenoptera, Vol. II. Ants and cuckoo-wasps. In Blanford, W. T. (ed.),Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma, Taylor and Francis, London.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chadab, R., and Rettenmeyer, C. W. (1975). Mass recruitment by army ants.Science 188: 1124–1125.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chadab-Crepet, R., and Rettenmeyer, C. W. (1982). Comparative behavior of social wasps when attacked by army ants or other predators and parasites. In Breed, M. D., Michener, C. D., and Evans, H. E. (eds.),The Biology of Social Insects, Westview Press, Boulder, Colo., pp. 270–274.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cohic, F. (1948). Observations morphologiques et ecologiques surDorylus (Anomma) nigricans Ill. (Hym. Dorylinae)Rev. Franc. Entomol. 14: 229–276.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fletcher, D. J. C. (1973). “Army ant” behavior in the Ponerinae: A re-assessment.Proc. VII Congr. IUSSI, London.

  • Forel, A. (1921–1923).Le Monde Social des Fourmis du Globe Comparée à Celui de l'Homme, Libraire Kundig, Geneva.

    Google Scholar 

  • Franks, N. R. (1982). Ecology and population regulation in the army antEciton burchelli. In Leigh, E. G., Rand, A. S., and Windsor, D. W. (eds.),The Ecology of a Neotropical Forest, Seasonal Rhythms and Long-Term Changes, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 389–395.

    Google Scholar 

  • Franks, N. R., and Bossert, W. H. (1983). The influence of swarm raiding army ants on the patchiness and diversity of a tropical leaf litter ant community. In Sutton, S. L., Whitmore, T. C., and Chadwick, A. C. (eds.),Tropical Rain Forest: Ecology and Management, Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 151–163.

    Google Scholar 

  • Franks, N. R., and Fletcher, C. R. (1983). Spatial patterns in army ant foraging and migration:Eciton burchelli on Barro Colorado Island, Panama.Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 12: 261–270.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gotwald, W. H. (1972).Oecophylla longinoda, an ant predator ofAnomma driver ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Psyche 79: 348–356.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gotwald, W. H. (1974a). Foraging behavior ofAnomma driver ants in Ghana cocoa farms (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)Bull. Inst. Fondam Afr. Noire Ser. A 36: 705–713.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gotwald, W. H. (1974b). Predatory behavior and food preferences of driver ants in selected African habitats.Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 67: 877–886.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gotwald, W. H. (1978a). Trophic ecology and adaptation in tropical Old World ants of the subfamily Dorylinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Biotropica 10: 161–169.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gotwald, W. H. (1978b). Emigration behavior of the East African driver ant,Dorylus (Anomma) molesta Gerstaeker (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Dorylinae).J. N.Y. Entomol. Soc. 86: 290.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gotwald, W. H. (1982). Army ants. In Hermann, H. R. (ed.),Social Insects, Vol IV, Academic Press, New York, pp. 157–254.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gotwald, W. H., and Brown, W. L. (1966). The ant genusSimopelta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Psyche 73: 261–277.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harrison, J. S., and Gentry, J. B. (1981). Foraging pattern, colony distribution, and foraging range of the Florida harvester ant,Pogonomyrmex badius.Ecology 62: 1467–1473.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hölldobler, B. (1973). Chemische Strategie beim Nahrungserwerb der Diebsameise (Solenopsis fugax Latr.) und der Pharaoamesie (Monomorium pharaonis L.).Oecologia 11: 371–380.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hölldobler, B. (1976). Recruitment behavior, home range orientation and territoriality in harvestor ants,Pogonomyrmex.Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 1: 3–44.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hölldobler, B. (1977). Communication in social Hymenoptera. In Sebeok, T. A. (ed.),How Animals Communicate, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, pp. 418–471.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hölldobler, B. (1978). Ethological aspects of chemical communication in ants.Adv. Study Behav. 8: 75–115.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hölldobler, B. (1982). Communication, raiding behavior and prey storage inCerapachys (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Psyche 89: 3–23.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hölldobler, B. (1984). Communication during foraging and nest-relocation in the African stink ant,Paltothyreus tarsatus Fabr. (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Ponerinae). Z.Tierpsychol. 65: 40–52.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hölldobler, B., and Lumsden, C. J. (1980). Territorial strategies in ants.Science 210: 732–739.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hölldobler, B., and Möglich, M. (1980). The foraging system ofPheidole militicida (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Insectes Soc. 3: 237–264.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hölldobler, B., and Traniello, J. F. A. (1980). The pygidial gland and chemical recruitment communication inPachycondyla (= Termitopone) laevigata.J. Chem. Ecol. 6: 883–893.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hölldobler, B., Engel, H., and Taylor, R. E. (1982). A new sternal gland in ants and its function in chemical communication.Naturwissenschaften 69: 90–91.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jacobson, E. (1910).Pheidologeton diversus Jerdon und eine myrmecophile Fliegennart.Tijdschr. Ent. 53: 328–335.

    Google Scholar 

  • Karawajew, W. (1935). Neue Ameisen aus dem Indo-Australischen Gebiet, nebst Revision einiger Formen.Treubia 15: 95–96.

    Google Scholar 

  • Longhurst, C., and Howse, P. E. (1979). Foraging recruitment and emigration inMegaponera foetens (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the Nigerian Guinea Savanna.Insectes Soc. 26: 204–215.

    Google Scholar 

  • Longhurst, C., Johnson, R. A., and Wood, T. G. (1979). Foraging, recruitment and predation byDecamorium uelense (Santschi) (Formicidae: Myrmicinae) on termites in southern Guinea savanna, Nigeria,Oecologia 38: 83–91.

    Google Scholar 

  • Maschwitz, U. and Mühlenberg, M. (1975). Zur Jagdstrategie einiger orientalischerLeptogenys-Arten (Formicidae: Ponerinae).Oecologia 20: 65–83.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moffett, M. W. (1984). Swarm raiding in a myrmicine ant.Naturwissenschaften 71: 588–590.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moffett, M. W. (1985). Behavioral notes on the Asiatic harvesting antsAcanthomyrmex notabilis and A ferox.Psyche 92: 165–179.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moffett, M. W. (1986). Notes on the behavior of the dimorphic antOligomyrmex overbecki (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Psyche 93: 107–116.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moffett, M. W. (1987). Division of labor and diet in the extremely polymorphic antPheidologeton diversus.Nat. Geogr. Res. 3: 282–304.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moffett, M. W. (1988). Nesting and emigrations in two swarm-raiding myrmicine ants. In Arnett, R. H. (ed.),Advances in Myrmecology, E. J. Brill, Leiden, Holland.

    Google Scholar 

  • Oster, G. C., and Wilson, E. O. (1978).Caste and Ecology in the Social Insects, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peeters, C. (1984).Social Organization, Breeding Biology and the Process of Reproductive Differentiation in Ophthalmopone berthoudi Forel,a Ponerine Ant, Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesberg, South Africa.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pham, T. (1924). Sur le régime alimentaire d'une espèce de fourmis Indochinoises (Pheidologeton diversus) lerdon.Ann. Sci. Nat. Zool. 10: 131–135.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pullen, B. E. (1963). Termitophagy, myrmecophagy, and the evolution of the Dorylinae (Hym. Formicidae).Stud. Entomol. 6: 405–414.

    Google Scholar 

  • Raignier, A. and Van Boven, J. (1955). Étude taxonomique, biologique et biométrique desDorylus du sous-genreAnomma (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Ann. Mus. R. Congo. Belg. 2: 1–359.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rettenmeyer, C. W. (1963). Behavioral studies of army ants.Univ. Kans. Sci. Bull. 44: 281–465.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rothney, G. A. J. (1889). Notes on Indian ants.Trans. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 36: 347–374.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schneirla, T. C. (1963). The behavior and biology of certain Neartic army ants: Springtime resurgence of cyclic function-southeastern Arizona.Anim. Behav. 11: 583–595.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schneirla, T. C. (1971).Army Ants: A Study in Social Organization, Freeman, San Francisco.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shepherd, J. D. (1982). Trunk trails and the searching strategy of a leaf-cutting ant,Atta colombica.Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 11: 77–84.

    Google Scholar 

  • Snelling, R. R. (1981). Systematics of social hymenoptera. In Hermann, H. R. (ed.),Social Insects, Vol. II, Academic Press, New York, pp. 369–453.

    Google Scholar 

  • Topoff, H. (1984). Social organization of raiding and emigrations in army ants.Adv. Study Behav. 14: 81–125.

    Google Scholar 

  • Topoff, H., Mirenda, J., Droual, R., and Herrick, S. (1980). Behavioral ecology of mass recruitment in the army antNeivamyrmex nigrescens.Anim. Behav. 28: 779–789.

    Google Scholar 

  • Torgerson, R. L., and Akre, R. D. (1970). The persistence of army ant chemical trails and their significance in the ecitonine-ecitophile association (Formicidae: Ecitonini).Melanderia 5: 1–28.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wheeler, J., and Rissing, S. W. 1975. Natural history ofVeromessor pergandei. II. Behavior,Pan-Pacif. Entomol. 51: 303–314.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wheeler, W. M. (1910).Ants: Their Structure, Development, and Behavior, Columbia University Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • Willis, E. O. (1967). The behavior of bicolored antbirds.Univ. Calif. Publ. Zool. 79: 1–127.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, E. O. (1958). The beginnings of nomadic and group-predatory behavior in the ponerine ants.Evolution 12: 24–31.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, E. O. (1962). Behavior ofDacton armigerum (Latreille), with a classification of self-grooming movements in ants.Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 127: 403–422.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, E. O. (1971).The Insect Societies, Belknap, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wroughton, R. C. (1889). Our hymenoptera.J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 4: 26–37.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wroughton, R. C. (1892). Our ants, Part II.J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 7: 175–203.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Moffett, M.W. Foraging dynamics in the group-hunting myrmicine ant,Pheidologeton diversus . J Insect Behav 1, 309–331 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01054528

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01054528

Key words

  • Pheidologeton diversus
  • Myrmicinae
  • army ant
  • group hunting
  • swarm raid
  • column raid
  • trunk trail
  • foraging strategy