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Psyche
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 435838, 4 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/435838
Research Article

Nest Relocation and Colony Founding in the Australian Desert Ant, Melophorus bagoti Lubbock (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Department of Brain, Behaviour & Evolution, Macquarie University, 209 Culloden Road, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia

Received 14 January 2010; Accepted 27 February 2010

Academic Editor: Lars Chittka

Copyright © 2010 Patrick Schultheiss et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Even after years of research on navigation in the Red Honey Ant, Melophorus bagoti, much of its life history remains elusive. Here, we present observations on nest relocation and the reproductive and founding stages of colonies. Nest relocation is possibly aided by trail laying behaviour, which is highly unusual for solitary foraging desert ants. Reproduction occurs in synchronised mating flights, which are probably triggered by rain. Queens may engage in multiple matings, and there is circumstantial evidence that males are chemically attracted to queens. After the mating flight, the queens found new colonies independently and singly. Excavation of these founding colonies reveals first insights into their structure.