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Open Access: CC BY 4.0


Cardoso, D.C., Canguçu Alves, I.C., Cristiano, M.P. & Heinze, J.

Year: 2024


Death feigning in ants

Journal: Myrmecological News

Volume: 34

Pages: 45-56

Type of contribution: Review Article

Supplementary material: No


In many animals, feigning death is a last resort to avoid being killed by a predator or competitor. While the neurological and physiological correlates of death feigning (DF) as well as its adaptive significance have intensively been studied in numerous arthropods, detailed studies on this phenomenon in ants are rare. Here, we describe DF in ants in detail and show that in many species it can be provoked by experimental manipulation or staged encounters with aggressive competitors in the laboratory. Much less is known about the context and consequence of death feigning in nature and whether it successfully protects ants from ant-eating predators or territorial intruders. We suggest additional research on this often neglected, but easily studied phenomenon, which will help to increase our understanding of its importance and underlying causes.

Open access, licensed under CC BY 4.0. © 2024 The Author(s).

Key words:

Thanatosis, tonic immobility, apparent death, defense, Hymenoptera, Formicidae, review.

Publisher: The Austrian Society of Entomofaunistics

ISSN: 1997-3500