Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 483–486 | Cite as

Agro-predation by Megalomyrmex ants on Mycetophylax fungus-growing ants

  • D. C. Cardoso
  • M. P. Cristiano
  • C. B. da Costa-Milanez
  • J. Heinze
Short Communication

Abstract

Fungus-growing ants are a remarkable taxon of New World ants that engage in a mutualistic symbiosis with basidiomycete fungi. Their fungus-gardens are valuable resources and are exploited in countless ways by parasites and other beneficiaries outside of the ant-fungi mutualism. Here, for the first time, we report on the agro-predatory behavior of the ant Megalomyrmex incisus on Mycetophylax conformis and Mycetophylax morschi fungus-growers from sand dunes near Ilhéus, Brazil. Me. incisus workers raided colonies of My. conformis and My. morschi and aggressively antennated, pulled, bit, and stung the fungus-growers, which played dead or retreated on the fungus. Me. incisus quickly usurped the fungus-garden and expelled all Mycetophylax workers. The usurpation closely resembled that described for raids of Me. wettereri on Cyphomyrmex longiscapus, in that the fungus-growers remained passive and avoided confrontation. This passive behavior suggests that Me. incisus uses chemical weapons that facilitate the exploitation of the host colony resources.

Keywords

Predation Behavior Fungus-garden Formicidae Attini Restinga 

Supplementary material

40_2016_487_MOESM1_ESM.mp4 (48.5 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (MP4 49680 kb) Supplementary material 1 Agro-predatory behavior of Me. incisus from Ilhéus, Bahia, Brazil, on Mycetophylax species. The movie shows workers attacking Mycetophylax workers when usurping the fungus-garden. Me. incisus workers violently antennate, bite, pull, and sting Mycetophylax workers and actively carry individuals that feign dead out of the nest

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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. C. Cardoso
    • 1
  • M. P. Cristiano
    • 2
  • C. B. da Costa-Milanez
    • 2
  • J. Heinze
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento de GenéticaUniversidade Federal do ParanáCuritibaBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Biodiversidade, Evolução e Meio AmbienteUniversidade Federal de Ouro PretoOuro PretoBrazil
  3. 3.Zoology/Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany

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