Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Influence of the number of queens on nest establishment: native and invasive ant species.

Abstract

As a critical stage in the life cycle of ant colonies, nest establishment depends on external and internal factors. This study investigates the effect of the number of queens on queen and worker behavior during nest establishment in invasive Argentine ants (Linepitema humile) and native Mediterranean Tapinoma nigerrimum. We set up experimental colonies with the same number of workers but with one or six queens. At different time points, we recorded the positions of queens and workers inside and outside the nest. Our results highlight the influence of the number of queens on the position of queens and workers with between-species differences. Queens of both species entered the nests more quickly when there were six queens. During nest establishment, more workers were inside nests with six queens for both species, with this effect being greater for T. nigerrimum. Once nests were established, fewer workers of both species were engaged in nest maintenance and feeding in nests with six queens; T. nigerrimum had fewer workers engaged in patrolling. These results suggest that the number of queens is a key factor driving queen and worker behavior during and after nest establishment with different species responses.