Pre-imaginal experience and nestmate brood recognition in the carpenter ant, Camponotus floridanus

Norman F. Carlin, Peter H. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations


Worker larve of the carpenter ant were reared from the first instar to pupation in the presence of workers and pupae from a foreign colony. Following metamorphosis to adulthood, they were transferred to a group of workers and pupae from a different colony. When offered a pupa from each colony at 5-7 days post-emergence, the experimental workers preferentially licked pupae of the colony with which they were familiarized during larval experience. At later ages, they exhibited no significant preference. These results are consistent with the transient influence of pre-imaginal experience on nestmate brood recognition previously reported in the ant Cataglyphis cursor. However, control C. floridanus workers, familiarized with a single colony during both larval and adult experience, licked pupae from that colony and pupae from an unfamiliar colony without preference. In a second control experiment, older workers taken directly from their natal colony also failed to lick nestmate pupae preferentially, but did pick up and retrieve them significantly earlier than non-nestmates, suggesting that licking may not be an adequate measure of recognition. Colony recognition learned during larval life could be enhanced by a temporary estrangement, after which workers exhibit a preference for pre-imaginally familiar brood that might not otherwise be manifest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-95
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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