Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 195–217 | Cite as

Coordination of Raiding and Emigration in the Ponerine Army Ant Leptogenys distinguenda (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Ponerinae): A Signal Analysis

  • V. Witte
  • U. Maschwitz


Several glandular sources of trail pheromones have been discovered in army ants in general. Nevertheless, at present the understanding of the highly coordinated behavior of these ants is far from complete. The importance of trail pheromone communication for the coordination of raids and emigrations in the ponerine army ant Leptogenys distinguenda was examined, and its ecological function is discussed. The secretions of at least two glands organize the swarming activities of L. distinguenda. The pygidial gland is the source of an orientation pheromone holding the group of raiding workers together. The same pheromone guides emigrations to new nest sites. In addition, the poison sac contains two further components: one with a weak orientation effect and another which produces strong, but short-term attraction and excitement. The latter component is important in prey recruitment and characterizes raid trails. This highly volatile recruitment pheromone allows the extreme swarm dynamic characteristic of this species. Emigration trails lack the poison gland secretion. Due to their different chemical compositions, the ants are thus able to distinguish between raid and emigration trails. Nest emigration is not induced chemically, but mechanically, by the jerking movements of stimulating workers.

Ponerinae Leptogenys distinguenda trail pheromones coordination raiding emigration 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cornell University, Baker LaboratoryIthaca
  2. 2.Zoologisches InstitutJ. W. Goethe-Universität, Siesmayerstrasse 70Frankfurt am MainGermany

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