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Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 313–327 | Cite as

A new aspect of the role of larvae in the pharaoh's ant society (Monomorium pharaonis (L.)-Formicidae, Myrmicinae): Producer of fecundity-increasing substances to the queen

  • L. W. Børgesen
Article

Summary

Observations of undisturbed brood chambers of the pharaoh's ant showed that mated, mature queens regularly selected large larvae lying on the bottom of the chambers. The queens obviously obtained liquid secretions by licking various parts of these larvae. It was mainly stomodeal secretion, most likely originating from the larval labial glands, but also anal secretion and gut liquid from larvae becoming prepupae on shedding the meconium.

In order to study the significance of this behaviour, the egg-yield of queens with or without access to larvae was counted and dissections of queens and some workers were made to observe the differences.

The egg-yield of queens without larvae almost immediately dropped to about one third of the production in queens with larvae, and a high rate of egg production could be restored by introducing larvae to queens which had been depleted of larvae, in agreement with observations in the dissections.

It seems likely that the mated mature queens of this species obtain most of their food directly from the larvae.

Keywords

Brood Chamber Large Larva Labial Gland Anal Secretion Mature Queen 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Un nouvel aspect du rôle des larves dans les sociétés de fourmis du Pharaon Monomorium pharaonis (L.)(Formicidae, Myrmicinae): leur production de substances accroissant la fécondité de la reine

Resume

L'observation — en évitant toute perturbation — du couvain de la fourmi du Pharaon, a permis de constater que les reines fécondées et matures, sélectionnent régulièrement de grosses larves au fond du nid. De toute évidence les reines obtiennent des sécrétions liquides en léchant différentes parties de ces larves. Il s'agit surtout de sécrétions buccales provenant sans doute des glandes labiales des larves, mais aussi de sécrétions anales et de sucs intestinaux provenant de larves au stade prénymphal en train d'expulser le méconium.

Afin d'étudier l'importance de ce comportement, on a compté le nombre d'œufs pondus par des reines ayant ou non accès aux larves et on a disséqué des reines et quelques ouvrières pour observer les différences.

La production des reines sans larves chute immédiatement au tiers de ce qu'elle est chez des reines ayant accès aux larves; on peut rétablir la ponte de ces reines à son niveau antérieur en leur ajoutant des larves; les résultats des dissections vont dans le même sens.

Il paraît vraisemblable que les reines matures et fécondées de cette espèce reçoivent la plus grande part de leur nourriture directement des larves.

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Copyright information

© Masson 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. W. Børgesen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut for PopulationsbiologiKœbenhavn ØDenmark

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