Open Access: CC BY 4.0


Dejean, A., Corbara, B., Roux, O. & Orivel, J

Year: 2014


The antipredatory behaviours of Neotropical ants towards army ant raids (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Journal: Myrmecological News

Volume: 19

Pages: 17-24

Type of contribution: Original Article

Supplementary material: Yes


Group hunting, nomadism, wingless queens and colony fission characterize army ants, allowing them to have become the main tropical arthropod predators, mostly of other social insects. We studied the reactions of different ant species to the New World army ants Eciton burchellii (Westwood, 1842) and E. hamatum (Fabricius, 1782) (Ecitoninae). We compiled our results with those already known in a synthetic appendix. A wide range of ant species react to the approach of army ant raids by evacuating their nests with several workers transporting brood. The Eciton plunder a large part of the brood but rarely kill workers or queens, so that the latter return to their nest and resume colony activity. One exception is Paratrechina longicornis (Latreille, 1802) colonies that quickly evacuate their nest, so that the entire colony can generally escape a raid. Another is Leptogenys mexicana (Mayr, 1870) that leave their nests in columns while some nestmates resist the attack; they therefore lose only a few larvae. We noted that colonies can avoid being raided if the army ants ignore them (Atta cephalotes (Linnaeus, 1758)), or if the workers produce a repellent substance (Azteca associated with myrmecophytic Cecropia) or are repellent themselves (Pachycondyla villosa (Fabricius, 1804), Ectatomma spp.). In the other cases, a part of the brood is lost. When an Eciton raid approached the base of their host-tree trunk, Azteca andreae Guerrero, Delabie & Dejean, 2010 workers dropped a part of their brood on the ground. While numerous Eciton workers were gathering up this brood, the front of the column advanced, so that the Azteca andreae nests were not plundered. Pheidole megacephala (Fabricius, 1793) nests were partly plundered as the workers reacted aggressively, blocking the Eciton inside their nests during a long time. When the latter returned toward their bivouac, they were attacked and killed by their nestmates whether or not they had retrieved Pheidole brood. Consequently, the front of the column turned away from the Pheidole nest.

Open access, licensed under CC BY 4.0. © 2014 The Author(s).

Key words:

Army ants, Ecitoninae, prey-ant species, antipredatory behaviour.

Publisher: The Austrian Society of Entomofaunistics

ISSN: Print: 1994-4136 - Online: 1997-3500