Homopteran chemical signatures reduce aggression of tending ants
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Because generalist ants are aggressive towards foreign insects, the recognition of homopterans by tending ants is critical in ant/homopteran trophobiosis. Herein we report experimental evidence indicating that Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) learn to associate the production of honeydew with the chemical characteristics of homopteran cuticle, suppressing ant aggression and allowing the ants to tend homopterans. Although chemically-mediated associative learning is well understood in honeybee foraging, to our knowledge, it has not been reported before in ant/homopteran trophobiosis.
Keywords.Ant/homopteran mutualism trophobiosis aggression Argentine ant Linepithema humile brown soft scale Coccus hesperidum associative learning
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