The Role of Chemical Senses in Seed-Carrying Behavior by Ants: A Behavioral, Physiological, and Morphological Study
The sensory bases of seed-carrying by ants were studied through behavioral, physiological, and morphological methods. Fourteen colonies from 4 ant species [Aphaenogaster rudis Emery, Lasius alienus Foerster, Formica subsericea Say, and Camponotus ferrigineus (F.)] were behaviorally tested for olfactory and gustatory responses to seeds of A. candense. Results indicate that ants do not perceive these seeds, which have elaiosomes, by olfaction. Rather, they respond to these seeds only if the seeds are antennated. These results indicate that these ants are not “attracted” to A. canadense seeds by olfactory cues. Electroantennograms (EAGs) recorded from F. subsericea in response to olfactory and gustatory application of mixed isomer diolein, a major component of many seed elaiosomes, support the behavioral data. Olfactory delivery produced EAG responses no different from that of controls, while gustatory delivery produced responses with dose-dependence. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of the antennae of A. rudis, F. subsericea, and C. ferrigineus revealed the presence of sensilla chaetica, presumed to be contact chemoreceptors, and sensilla placodea and/or sensilla trichodea curvata that are believed to be olfactory receptors.
Itagaki, Harry; Sheridan, S L.; and Iversen, K A., "The Role of Chemical Senses in Seed-Carrying Behavior by Ants: A Behavioral, Physiological, and Morphological Study" (1996). Journal of Insect Physiology 42(2): 149-159. Faculty Publications. Paper 127.
Journal of Insect Physiology