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Journal Article (Refereed)
January 2014

Chemical deception among ant social parasites

Guillem, R & Drijfhout, F & Martin, S 2014, 'Chemical deception among ant social parasites', Current Zoology, 60.


Deception is widespread throughout the animal kingdom and various deceptive strategies are exemplified by social parasites. These are species of ants, bees and wasps that have evolved to invade, survive and reproduce within a host colony of another social species. This is achieved principally by chemical deception that tricks the host workers into treating the invading parasite as their own kin. Achieving levels of acceptance into typically hostile host colonies requires an amazing level of deception as social insects have evolved complex species- and colony-specific recognition systems. This allows the detection of foreigners, both hetero- and con-specific. Therefore, social parasitic ants not only have to overcome the unique species recognition profiles that each ant species produces, but also the subtle variations in theses profiles which generate the colony-specific profiles. We present data on the level of chemical similarity between social parasites and their hosts in four different systems and then discuss these data in the wider context with previous studies, especially in respect to using multivariate statistical methods when looking for differences in these systems.


SEEK Members

External Authors

Rhian Guillem

Falko Drijfhout

Publication Details

Journal Name
Current Zoology