BIOLOGICALLY-BASED TECHNOLOGIES FOR MANAGEMENT OF CROP INSECT PESTS IN LOCAL AND AREAWIDE PROGRAMS
Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit
Title: Context-dependent stridulatory responses of Leptogenys kitteli (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) to social, prey, and disturbance stimuli
Submitted to: Annals of the Entomological Society of America
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 18, 2011
Publication Date: September 1, 2011
Citation: Chiu, Y., Mankin, R.W., Lin, C. 2011. Context-dependent stridulatory responses of Leptogenys kitteli (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) to social, prey, and disturbance stimuli. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 104(5):1012-1020.
Interpretive Summary: Ants are important natural enemies of many agricultural pests but much remains to be discovered concerning how they locate prey and communicate amongst themselves. Scientists at the USDA, ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology,Gainesville, Florida, National Central University, Jhongli City, Taiwan, and National Changua University of Education, Changua City, Taiwan recorded with inexpensive equipment the communicational stridulations produced by a species of ant and analyzed the signals in relation to behavior. Ant chemical communication has been studied extensively, due to its importance in understanding ant behavior, but the important modulating effects of stridulatory signals on ant behaviors have been recognized only recently. This study quantifies the effects of stridulation and suggests possible uses of artificially produced vibrations for insect control.
By increasing the speed of stridulatory movements and the rates of stridulation pulses, individuals and groups of Leptogenys kitteli (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) produce graded stridulatory responses to increasingly excitatory stimuli ranging from social interactions within a nest to prey items placed just outside the nest, and air puffs delivered at the entrance. The occurrence of graded stridulatory responses to stimuli contributes to evidence that stridulation has a significant communicatory role in colony activities of many ant species, even in genera, like Leptogenys, in which a stridulatory organ has not been retained in every species. Implications of stridulatory communication in different behavioral contexts are discussed. A better understanding of how ants produce and interpret vibrations may lead to new methods that to improve attractiveness of baits, or repel ants from electrical equipment housings where opportunistic colonies frequently nest.