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Influence of the number of queens on nestmate recognition and attractiveness of queens to workers in the Argentine ant, Iridomyrmex humilis (Mayr)
To investigate the influence of the number of queens per colony on nestmate recognition in Iridomyrmex humilis, comparative assays were performed to study the attraction of workers to queens. These assays demonstrated that a phenomenon of recognition is superimposed on the attraction of workers to queens. Workers could discriminate non-nestmate queens from their nestmate queen to which they were significantly more attracted. This discrimination is probably based on the learning by workers of queen and colony odour. The level of attraction of workers to non-nestmate queens was similar in monogynous and polygynous colonies, whereas the level of attraction of workers to nestmate queens was significantly lower in polygynous colonies. This difference in the level of attraction of workers to nestmate queens almost certainly resulted from a lower efficiency in nestmate recognition in polygynous colonies. It is hypothesized that the mixture of several pheromonal sources produced by less related individuals in polygynous colonies may result in a less distinct colony odour than in monogynous colonies. The results are discussed with regard to some implications of polygyny and particularly to the loss of intercolonial aggression in I. humilis as well as in other polygynous ant species
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