Sociobiology: Volume 57, Number 2, 2011

Feature Articles:


The Effects of Nectar-Robbing on Fruit Production in Sparattosperma leucanthum (Bignoniaceae)

By Leandro Pereira Polatto, José Chaud-Netto, Valter Vieira Alves Júnior & João Cloves Stanzani Dutra

ABSTRACT

Many animals behave as robbers or thieves of floral resources, causing damage to floral tissues or consuming resources used to attract pollinators, or producing effects similar to emasculation by reducing the pollen load in the anthers (which generally results in losses in terms of sexual reproduction). The present work examined the direct and indirect impacts caused by nectar-robbing on the reproductive success of Sparattosperma leucanthum. Different manipulations of the flowers were tested to determine if fruit production was influenced by the perforations made in the floral tissues (direct damage), and if there were changes in visitation frequencies or in the behaviors of effective pollinators (indirect damage). Perforations made by nectar robbers did not lower the reproductive success of the plant species studied. The bee Trigona spinipes was the most frequent visitor and caused the largest perforations in the calyx and corolla of S. leucanthum. Additionally, we noted the occurrence of pollen theft by this same bee in flowers that had been protected against nectar-robbing. These results suggest that if S. leucanthum had developed a mechanism of resistance to robbery by T. spinipes it would probably have experienced even lower pollination levels as a result of reductions in the quantities of pollen available for transfer by effective pollinators. We were not able to evaluate if nectar depletion through robbery modified the behavior of the effective pollinators (bumblebees of the genus Bombus).

KEY WORDS: Trigona spinipes, resource larceny, bees, effective pollinator, floral damage

Return to top


Molecular Cloning, Characterization, and Expression Analysis of cAMP Response Element-Binding Protein (CREB) Gene in the Ant Polyrhachis vicina ( Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

By Gengsi Xi, Hui He, Xiaohui Wang & Qing Li

ABSTRACT

The cAMP response element binding protein (CREB), as one of the best characterized stimulus-induced transcription factors, plays critical roles in regulation of physiological processes and development. We cloned a full-length cDNA of CREB gene from the ant, Polyrhachis vicina Roger, by using RACE-PCR. The sequence of P.vicina CREB (named PvCREB) gene contains a 55 bp 5’ UTR, a 760 bp open reading frame (ORF) encoding 253 amino acids and a 337 bp 3’ UTR. Amino acid sequence analysis revealed that PvCREB shares conserved signature motifs with other CREB proteins. The primary structure of the deduced PvCREB protein contains a kinase-inducible domain (KID) and a basic region/leucine zipper (bZIP) dimerization domain which exists in all CREB family members. Real-time quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction indicated that PvCREB mRNA is differentially expressed during P.vicina development, in the whole bodies as well as the heads of different castes. Those results indicated that the potential significance of PvCREB in the regulation of development in P. vicina.

KEY WORDS: Polyrhachis vicina, element binding protein, cloning

Return to top


Ant-Plant Interactions: Absolute Frequency as a Better Method to Sample Visiting Ants in The Extrafloral Nectary-Bearing Plant, Qualea Multiflora (Vochysiaceae)

By Larissa Nahas & Kleber Del-Claro

ABSTRACT

We sampled the ant fauna associated with the extrafloral nectary-bearing plant Qualea multiflora in cerrado. Thirty trees were tagged and inspected three times per month during a period of 10 months. In each inspection the ant species and number of individuals were registered. The most frequent and abundant species were Camponotus crassus and Cephalotes pusillus, and after 18-19 samples new species were not found. Our study revealed the importance of considering the frequency of the ant species and not only their abundance for a correct interpretation of their importance in ant-plant interactions and showed that an extensive sampling methodology is needed to know the species involved in these interactions.

KEY WORDS: extrafloral nectaries; ants; cerrado; tropical savanna

Return to top


Notes on the Biology and Host Ant Specificity of the Myrmecophilous Syrphid Fly Microdon major (Diptera: Syrphidae), a Social Parasite of Formica Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

By Magdalena Witek, Dario Patricelli, Luca Pietro Casacci, Francesca Barbero, Emilio Balletto & Simona Bonelli

ABSTRACT

Many species of social parasites are rare and endangered and knowledge of their interaction with hosts is often scarce. This is particularly true for Microdon syrphid flies, many of which are obligate social parasites of ants. Since cryptic speciation is common in social parasites, the precise number of Microdon species is unknown and only a few apparently exist all across Europe. Here we present data on the host ant specificity, larval behavior and habitat preferences of Microdon major. This species was considered as a sibling species of M. analis by Schmid (2004) mostly on the basis of some morphological differences between pupae and different host ant use. In this paper we report the first Italian record of M. major. Larvae and pupae of this species were found in two nests of Formica lemani and in one colony of Formica fusca. The three infested nests had been built under stones and fallen wood, and M. major instars were found in the wood debris, close to, or inside the brood chambers. M. major was found in sunny mountain meadows, surrounded by trees. On the contrary, M. analis is associated with Lasius ants and occurs in more wet habitat, such as the “Molinietum”. During our field survey we observed a small M. major larvae preying on ant brood. Only very limited information is available, however, on the habitat preferences and host ant specificity of these Microdon species, and we stress the need to improve our understanding of their biology before we can draw appropriate schemes for the conservation of these rare social parasites, as well as for gaining a more complete understanding of their taxonomy.

KEY WORDS: cryptic species, habitat preferences, host-parasite interaction, Microdon analis

Return to top


Resource Suitability Affecting Foraging Area Extension in Termites (Insecta, Isoptera)

By Ana Paula Albano Araújo, Fernanda S. de Araújo & Og Desouza

ABSTRACT

The size of foraging areas may depend on the balance between the costs and benefits involved in the use of resources. Here, we tested the hypothesis that termites reduce their foraging area when exploring patches with more favorable resource suitability (i.e., low C/N ratio) since, rather than digging long tunnels they feed on the substrate which is closely available. As a consequence, when foraging in richer patches, termites will dig fewer and shorter tunnels, and will do so more slowly than when in patches with lower suitability of resource. To examine this, we simulated, in laboratory, an improvement in resource suitability in patches by increasing dung content in a soil-based foraging substrate. For each patch with distinct resource balance, ten repetitions were performed, using workers from different colonies of Cornitermes cumulans. Observations were made over 48 hours. As expected, in richer patches there was a decrease in the length, number and speed of the tunnel construction by termites. That is, termites excavated more intensely in patches with low suitability of essential resource and stayed longer in richer patches. Such results may help understand intriguing patterns reported elsewhere, such as the decrement of termite richness in resource-rich areas.

KEY WORDS: habitat selection, Isoptera, termite foraging efficiency, tunnelling behavior

Return to top


Clumped Versus Broadcast Applications of Bait to Control Big-Headed Ants, Pheidole megacephala (F.), (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Pineapple Fields

By Glenn Taniguchi

ABSTRACT

To minimize waste and environmental contamination with broadcast applications of toxic baits, bait clumping was investigated as an alternative to control the big-headed ant, Pheidole megacephala (F.) in pineapple fields. Bait clumping is a potential replacement for the effective but time-consuming and costly method of using bait stations. The results, however, indicated that the average distance from an ant nest to a bait clump was too far to be effective due to photodegradation of the bait before the ants had time to collect it.

KEY WORDS: Pheidole megacephala, big-headed ant, Amdro, pineapple

Return to top


Effects of Leaf Extracts of Murraya koenigii (Rutaceae) on Coptotermes curvignathus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

By Asfezan Safian, Ahmad Said Sajap, Mohd. Aspollah Sukari, Faizah Abood Harris, Noor Haslizawati Abu Bakar & Roslan Mohamad Kassim

ABSTRACT

Hexane, chloroform and methanol extracts from leaves of Murraya koenigii (Rutaceae) were tested for their termiticidal effects on subterranean termites, Coptotermes curvignathus Holmgren (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). The results show that the termite workers responded differently to filter papers that had been treated with varying concentrations of the leaf extracts. The hexane extracts generally had the highest repellent activity on the termites and all extracts significantly affected the mortality and feeding rates of the termites. The mortality rates ranged from 27 to 31% in hexane, 7 to 23% in chloroform and 52 to 60% in methanol extracts. The mortality rates from the controls in all treatments were less than 10%. The termites consumed less than 10% of the treated filter papers as compared to more than 35% of the untreated filter papers. The experiment thus shows that leaf extracts of M. koenigii contained biologically active compounds that were repellent and affected feeding and survival of C. curvignathus.

KEY WORDS:

Return to top


Flooding Increases Volume of Venom Sac in Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

By Amber M. Papillion, Linda M. Hooper-Bùi & Rachel M. Strecker

ABSTRACT

Red imported fire ants are an alien invasive species that invaded North America from the Pantenal area of South America. These polymorphic ants are able to raft when their colony is flooded, thus allowing Solenopsis invicta to survive this change in environment. Flooded fire ants have been shown to increase defensiveness; they deliver higher doses of venom than non-flooded ants. We tested the hypothesis that changes in venom sac volume in flooded ants may explain increased defenses. Because fire ants are polymorphic, we examined head width and stinger length and associated them with length and width of the venom sac. Flooded ants were compared to a cohort of non-flooded ants to determine if flooded conditions resulted in increased size and therefore the volume of the venom sac. Random samples of workers from three colonies were taken before and during flooding at one hour and twenty-four hours. With flooding, S. invicta exhibited increased volume of venom sac, which may account for increase venom per sting during flooding.

KEY WORDS:

Return to top


Ecdysteroid Titers in Pupal Haemolymph and Post-Embryonic Brain Development in the Ant Camponotus rufipes (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)

By Paula. A. O. Soares, Jacques. H. C. Delabie, José C. Zanuncio & José E. Serrão

ABSTRACT

This study examined post-embryonic brain development in workers and males of the ant Camponotus rufipes (Fabricius, 1775) and its associations with ecdysteroid titers in haemolymph. Ecdysteroid levels were lower in the prepupae and the early pupae of workers, whereas they were higher in the prepupae and early pupae of males. In workers, brain volume increased 25% from the prepupal to the adult stages. In contrast, the brain volume of males decreased from the prepupal to weakly-pigmented eyed pupal stages, which followed a volume increase from the medium-pigmented eyed pupal to adult stages. These results suggest that ecdysteroids might be related to the brain development of pupae, as the high titers in early pupae followed by its decrease at the end of pupal development coincided with brain crescent development in workers and males.

KEY WORDS: Ants, insects; hormones; metamorphosis; Hymenoptera

Return to top


The Myrmecophilic Cricket Myrmecophilus in Spain (Orthoptera, Myrmecophilidae)

By X. Espadaler & J.M. Olmo-Vidal

ABSTRACT

Two species of myrmecophilous crickets, Myrmecophilus acervorum and Myrmecophilus ochraceus, are here established as present in the Iberian Peninsula. The generic host range for M. acervorum is limited to one genus, Lasius. The host range of M. ochraceus is wider, Camponotus, Messor, Monomorium, and Tetramorium. The identity of specimens from the Balearic Islands remains controversial.

KEY WORDS: ants, crickets, Formicidae, Iberian Peninsula, Myrmecophilus acervorum, Myrmecophilus ochraceus, Myrmecophilidae, Spain

Return to top


Control of Tramp Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) With Methoprene Baits

By Francesli Adriana Gusmão, Neiva Sibinel & Ana Eugênia de Carvalho Campos

ABSTRACT

Ants are eusocial insects with worldwide distribution which can nest in different environments. Brazil has a high diversity of ants, of which many species live in urban environments, closely related to man, the so-called tramp ants. Some of these species are considered pests because of the damage that they may cause in electronic appliances, their stings and also for their ability of transferring pathogens to food and in hospital environments. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of methoprene baits to control tramp ants present in a research Institution in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. A survey of non-toxic baits revealed the presence of four ant species distributed in six floors of the building: Tapinoma melanocephalum, Monomorium floricola, Paratrechina fulva and Brachymyrmex sp. After 18 weeks of treatment with methoprene baits, all species were adequately controlled.

KEY WORDS: ants, bait, Methoprene

Return to top


Sex Ratio Dynamics in Polygyne Colonies of Red Imported Fire Ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), in South China

By Jing-wen Ye, Yong-yue Lu, Yi-juan Xu & Ling Zeng

ABSTRACT

Based on a one-year investigation, it was found that there was a serious sex-ratio bias in natural polygyne populations of Solenopsis invicta Buren in south China. The percentages of reproductive pupae which were female rather than male all maximized in late January 2010 with 100% in the Liuyi Area of South China Agricultural University (SCAU), Wushan Yuejin Area of SCAU and Wasteland in Zengcheng, while the populations in Banana Park in Zengcheng maximized in late September and late December 2009. The minimum percentages of these four sites were all 0%. In Wasteland and Banana Park in Zengcheng, the proportions of female alates both maximized with 100%, in early and late September 2009 respectively. In Wushan Yuejin Area of SCAU, it maximized in late November 2009 with 84.75%. The minimum of these four sites were all 0%.

KEY WORDS: Solenopsis invicta, polygynes, sex-ratio bias

Return to top


Offspring Analysis in a Polygyne Colony of Melipona scutellaris (Hymenoptera: Apidae) by Means of Morphometric Analyses

By Carlos Alfredo Lopes de Carvalho, Wyratan da Silva Santos, Lorena Andrade Nunes, Bruno de Almeida Souza, Gislene Almeida de Carvalho Zilse & Rogério Marcos de Oliveira Alves

ABSTRACT

In the few cases of polygyne colonies in Melipona the presence of active queens is common, generating offspring from different maternal origins. One of the techniques employed to identify maternity of the offspring is morphometric analysis, which allows inter- and intraspecific groups to be discriminated. The objective of this study was to identify the maternal source of Melipona scutellaris workers from a polygyne colony with five queens using wing morphometric analysis. The right forewings and hindwings of 209 workers were used. The workers came from a brood disk extracted from the colony and taken to a B.O.D. incubator maintained at 28±1°C and 75% relative humidity. Conventional and geometric morphometry analyses were made. Groups were discriminated, indicating that the material analyzed had different maternal origins, with predominance of one queen, which was responsible for 57% of the progeny. Cluster analysis allowed to confirm that the use of conventional morphometry can identify offspring groups from existing queens in a M. scutellaris polygyne colony. However, such identification was not possible with geometric morphometry.

KEY WORDS: polygyny; geometric morphometry; conventional morpho-metry; stingless bees; “uruçu” bee

Return to top


Evaluation of Ivermectin for the Control of Odontotermes formosanus and Macrotermes barneyi (Isoptera: Termitidae) in a Seedling Nursery

By Zhiyun Jiang, Wanfeng Wu, Jiqian Wei, Li Chen & Jianchu Mo

ABSTRACT

Odontotermes formosanus and Macrotermes barneyi are two important insect pests in seedling nurseries in the south of China. They build mud tubes and mud covers on the surface of seedlings and feed on the bark of seedlings. The growth of seedlings is consequently impacted by these infestations and some seedlings die. In this paper, two formulations of ivermectin (0.01% bait and 3% dust) for the control O. formosanus and M. barneyi in Cinnamomun camphora (L) Presl. forest were evaluated in the Lanxi City Seedling Nursery, Zhejiang Province, China during the period of August, 2009 to October, 2010. The results indicated that the percent of trees damaged by termites was more than 85.5% in the control area during the period of test, and the corresponding percent was 1.00% in the dust application area and 0.22% in the bait application area. These data show ivermectin is a potential alternative to mirex and could be formulated into bait or dust for the control of O. formosanus and M. barneyi in seedling nursery.

KEY WORDS: Odontotermes formosanus, Macrotermes barneyi, ivermectin, termite monitor-controlling device, seedling nursery

Return to top


The Effects of Presence of Homo- and Allospecific Nestmates on Survivorship of Isolated Workers of the Obligatory Slave-Making Amazon Ant Species (Polyergus rufescens) and Their Slaves (Formica fusca) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

By Anna Szczuka, Julita Korczyska, Maria Kieruzel & Ewa Joanna Godziska

ABSTRACT

We report the results of two experiments investigating the survivorship of workers of the obligatory slave-making amazon ant species Polyergus rufescens and their slave species Formica fusca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in conditions of social isolation. In the first experiment, several hundred workers from a natural mixed colony of P. rufescens and F. fusca were isolated singly in test tubes with access to drinking water and carbohydrate food. All isolated ants remained alive after 24 h of social isolation. However, after 48-72 h of social isolation workers of P. rufescens started to show relatively high mortality (over 40% after 3 days of social isolation). The mortality of workers of F. fusca recorded during that period was very low (less than 1%). In the second experiment workers of P. rufescens and F. fusca were isolated either singly or together with a homo- or an allospecific nestmate. Workers of F. fusca showed very low mortality throughout the whole experiment irrespective of isolation conditions. Workers of P. rufescens tolerated the first day of social isolation, but in the absence of slaves they were unable to survive longer periods of social isolation in spite of availability of carbohydrate food. All workers of P. rufescens isolated without their slaves died within 8 days of social isolation. Presence of even a single worker of F. fusca significantly reduced mortality of P. rufescens in conditions of social isolation, but, nevertheless, their mortality remained significantly higher than in the case of F. fusca. Interestingly, presence of another amazon ant also exerted a significant protective effect on survivorship of workers of P. rufescens. However, that effect was not as strong as the effect of presence of a worker of F. fusca and was limited only to the second and the third day of social isolation.

KEY WORDS: survivorship, mortality, social isolation, amazon ant, Polyergus rufescens, Formica fusca

Return to top


Paracurvitermes, a New Genus of Syntermitinae (Isoptera: Termitidae)

By Reginaldo Constantino & Sérgio H.C. Carvalho

ABSTRACT

Paracurvitermes, a new monotypic termite genus is described to accomodate Armitermes manni Snyder 1926. Soldiers are monomorphic and have a conical nasus with broad tip and elongate, curved mandibles. The imago-worker mandibles have very large apical teeth and reduced marginal teeth. The digestive tube of P. manni is most similar to those of Macuxitermes and Noirotitermes. Soldiers, workers and imagoes are redescribed and figured. Curvitermes projectidens Mathews 1977 is a synonym of P. manni. The diagnosis of Syntermitinae is reviewed.

KEY WORDS: Armitermes, Curvitermes, Paracurvitermes, Nasutitermitinae, Syntermitinae

Return to top


Contributions to the Knowledge of the Myrmecophilous Pselaphines (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae, Pselaphinae) from China. VI. Hingstoniella Jeannel Is a Myrmecophile, With Notes on Its Definition and Systematic Position (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Pselaphinae)

By Zi-Wei Yin, Li-Zhen Li & Mei-Jun Zhao

ABSTRACT

Myrmecophily of the monotypic genus Hingstoniella Jeannel 1960 is newly discovered; ant of Myrmica Latreille sp. is recorded as host. The genus and species is redefined and redescribed. Systematic position of the genus is discussed.

KEY WORDS:

Return to top


Food Gathering Efficiency of the Common Red Ant (Myrmica rubra): Impact for Butterflies of the Genus Phengaris

By Adam Véle, Jaroslav Holuša & Tomáš Hlásny

ABSTRACT

Feeding behavior is an important feature affecting a particular species’ energy acquisition. For ants of the genus Myrmica, moreover, it is significant for the survival of Lycaenidae of the genus Phengaris, as ants find the caterpillars of butterflies while moving near their nests and subsequently transport them to their colonies. Using a method of placing food baits and evaluating the findings through neuronal networks, we found that the abundance of nesting colonies and the size of worker ants are important in foraging. With an increasing number of workers in the nest, the number of workers collecting food and their size initially increases moderately. The time elapsed from placing the bait and the distance from the nest (up to 90 cm) had virtually no impact, which evidences the fact that ants forage their surroundings regularly. The results of this experiment shed light on the relationship between ants and Lycaenidae. The insignificant role of time and distance shows that it is sufficient for Lycaenidae to lay eggs within the home range of a nest. The ants will then find caterpillars that have fallen to the ground regardless of how long they remain on the ground and the distance from the nest. In places suitable for the occurrence of Myrmica, butterflies can thus lay eggs on any host plant regardless of the presence of ants in its proximity and the caterpillars will have the same probability of being found by worker ants.

KEY WORDS:

Return to top