Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 483–486

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

DOI: 10.1007/s00040-016-0487-x

Cite this article as:
Cardoso, D.C., Cristiano, M.P., da Costa-Milanez, C.B. et al. Insect. Soc. (2016) 63: 483. doi:10.1007/s00040-016-0487-x


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.


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

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais
  • PPM-00126-15
Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior

    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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