New paper: Wingless virgin queens defend leaf-cutting ant colonies

September 11, 2012

Aggressive wingless Acromyrmex queenI have a new paper published on nest-defence in Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants. We found that young virgin queens switch to worker behaviour once they lose the prospect of founding their own colony. Normally, virgin queens avoid taking risks because they are supposed to partake in a mating flight and found a new “daughter” colony afterwards. Sometimes, however, the young queens lose their wings (probably by accident) before they can leave the nest. Then, they cannot fly and mate any more, and the only way to boost their fitness is by directly helping the colony, just like workers do.

V Nehring, JJ Boomsma, P d’Ettorre (2012): Wingless virgin queens assume helper roles in Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants. Current Biology 22: R671-R673, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.06.038.

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Amazon-like female warriors protect societies of farming ants

Princesses become warriors: Young queens of leafcutter ants change roles if they cannot reproduce (University of Freiburg)

Amazone-agtige krigere forsvarer svampedyrkende myresamfund (Danish, Copenhagen University)