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Hydrocarbon-released nestmate aggression in the Argentine ant, Linepithema humile, following encounters with insect prey.

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Clorox Technical Center, 7200 Johnson Drive, 94588, Pleasanton, CA, USA.


Argentine ants, Linepithema humile, were attacked by their nestmates following contact with a particular prey item, the brown-banded cockroach, Supella longipalpa. Contact with prey, as brief as 2 min, provoked nestmate aggression. Argentine ants contaminated with hydrocarbons extracted from S. longipalpa also released nestmate aggression behavior similar to that released by the whole prey item, confirming the involvement of hydrocarbons. In contrast to S. longipalpa, little or no nestmate aggression was induced by other ant prey from diverse taxa. A comparison of prey hydrocarbon profiles revealed that all hydrocarbons of S. longipalpa were very long chain components with 33 or more carbons, while other prey had either less, or none, of the very long chain hydrocarbons of 33 carbons or greater. We identified the hydrocarbons of S. longipalpa and some new groups of long chain hydrocarbons of L. humile. The majority of S. longipalpa hydrocarbons were 35 and 37 carbons in length with one to three methyl branches, and closely resembled two previously unidentified groups of compounds from L. humile of similar chain length. The hydrocarbons of S. longipalpa and L. humile were compared and their role in the Argentine ant nestmate recognition is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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