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Insects 2017, 8(2), 59; doi:10.3390/insects8020059

Allogrooming, Self-Grooming, and Touching Behavior: Contamination Routes of Leaf-Cutting Ant Workers Using a Fat-Soluble Tracer Dye

1
Laboratório de Insetos Sociais-Praga, Departamento de Produção Vegetal, Faculdade de Ciências Agronômicas, UNESP, Caixa Postal 237, Botucatu, SP 18603-970, Brasil
2
Campus Experimental de Itapeva, UNESP, Itapeva, SP18409-010, Brazil
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Brian T. Forschler
Received: 7 April 2017 / Revised: 5 June 2017 / Accepted: 7 June 2017 / Published: 9 June 2017
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Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine whether worker self-grooming, allogrooming, and direct contact promotes the dispersal of substances among members of the colony. For this purpose, a tracer (Sudan III dye) was applied topically to a worker ant and the social interactions between the worker with the tracer and workers without the tracer were studied. Additionally, the worker heads were dissected to visualize whether or not the post-pharyngeal gland was stained. The post-pharyngeal glands from 50% to 70% of workers were stained depending on the size of the group. With the increase in the experimental group size, the frequency of interactions between workers increased, with touching being the most frequent behavior. The tracer dye was probably passed on by direct contact between workers, followed by self-grooming and allogrooming. These behaviors are responsible for the rapid dispersal of substances among colony members as observed in our experiment. The results therefore support the hypothesis that contact with substances promotes the contamination of nestmates, even in the absence of feeding, serving as a model for further studies on the contamination of workers with the active ingredients of insecticides. View Full-Text
Keywords: Atta sexdens; leaf-cutting ants; allogrooming; self-grooming Atta sexdens; leaf-cutting ants; allogrooming; self-grooming
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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. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Camargo, R.S.; Puccini, C.; Forti, L.C.; de Matos, C.A.O. Allogrooming, Self-Grooming, and Touching Behavior: Contamination Routes of Leaf-Cutting Ant Workers Using a Fat-Soluble Tracer Dye. Insects 2017, 8, 59.

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