Posted on

Ants use the scent of hydrocarbon-laced secretions that coat their exoskeletons to identify nestmates and relatives. An ant will eventually lose the scent of its original colony if it is separated from it. The colony will attack any ant that enters without a scent that matches.

The parasitic ant is typically a species that is closely related to its host, but this type of parasitism occurs in many ant genera. In order to get into the host ant’s nest, a variety of techniques are used. Before the colony develops a scent, a parasitic queen may enter the host nest before the first brood has hatched. Pheromones are used by other species to trick host ants into carrying the parasitic queen into the nest or to confuse them. Some simply enter the nest by fighting.

Some species of ants exhibit a conflict between the sexes, with the reproducers apparently competing to produce offspring that are as closely related to the species as possible. The production of clonal offspring is the extreme form. Wasmannia auropunctata is an extreme example of sexual conflict, with the queens producing diploid daughters through thelytokous parthenogenesis and the males producing haploid males that are clones of the father through a process in which a diploid egg loses its maternal contribution.