Ants Eavesdropping of Termite

Wen X., Wen P., Dahlsjö C.A.L., Sillam-Dusses D. & Šobotník J. 2017: Breaking the cipher: ant eavesdropping on the variational trail pheromone of its termite prey. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences 284: 20170121.


Predators may eavesdrop on their prey using innate signals of varying nature. We showed that the termite-raiding ant Odontoponera transversa selected the trail pheromone of termites as kairomone in several species of fungus-growing termites (Termitidae: Macrotermitinae: Odontotermes yunnanensis, Macrotermes yunnanensis, Ancistrotermes dimorphus). Termites can manipulate the ratios of trail pheromone during foraging, according to the number of termites in the foraging party. Ants perceive both components and reveal stronger behavioural responses to the recruitment component as an indication of suitable prey abundance.

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