Sumo wrestling in ants: Major workers fight over male production in Acanthomyrmex ferox

  • Gobin B
  • Ito F
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In the myrmicine ant Acanthomyrmex ferox, major workers have the same number of ovarioles as queens, thrice that of minor workers, making them well suited for egg-laying. In the queen's presence, infrequent aggression allows ranking of majors but they lay only unviable trophic eggs. Major workers engage each other, but not the minors, in antennal boxing and spectacular shaking contests, a novel interaction in ants. The absence of reversals allows a clear ranking of major workers. After queen removal, aggression becomes very frequent, but previous ranking is maintained. All majors start laying reproductive eggs although they show a skew in ovary development according to ranking. The dominant major, however, actively patrols the egg-pile and cannibalises eggs laid by subordinates.

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  • Bruno Gobin

  • Fuminori Ito

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