Uninformed sacrifice: Evidence against long-range alarm transmission in foraging ants exposed to localized abduction
1 Group of Complex Systems and Statistical Physics, Physics Faculty, University of Havana, Habana 10400, Cuba
2 Laboratory of Mathematical Physics, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10065, USA
Received: 13 December 2015
Revised: 2 May 2016
Published online: 15 July 2016
It is well established that danger information can be transmitted by ants through relatively small distances, provoking either a state of alarm when they move away from potentially dangerous stimulus, or charge toward it aggressively. There is almost no knowledge if danger information can be transmitted along large distances. In this paper, we abduct leaf cutting ants of the species Atta insularis while they forage in their natural environment at a certain point of the foraging line, so ants make a “U” turn to escape from the danger zone and go back to the nest. Our results strongly suggest that those ants do not transmit “danger information” to other nestmates marching towards the abduction area. The individualistic behavior of the ants returning from the danger zone results in a depression of the foraging activity due to the systematic sacrifice of non-informed individuals.
© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag, 2016