Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 277–282 | Cite as

Mating Triggers Queen Elimination by Workers of Japanese Harvester Ant (Messor aciculatus)

  • Mamoru Takata
  • Cathleen E. Thomas
  • Satoshi Koyama


During reproduction, ant colonies produce winged queens. These new queens usually leave the nest to mate and can then establish a new nest. If the new nest is close to an existing colony, it will be in competition with the existing colony. Therefore, workers will kill any mated queens they find outside the colony during the reproductive season. In this study, factors that might determine whether workers eliminate queens were investigated. Mating status (mated or unmated), colony origin (same or different to tested workers) and mating partners (inbred or outbred) of the queens of Japanese harvester ants (Messor aciculatus) were manipulated and the workers’ behavior towards the queens was observed. Mated queens were always attacked by workers, though this was not affected by either colony origin or mating partners. These results suggest that mating status triggers elimination of queens by workers, and that the colony origin and mating partner are unlikely to be important roles in elimination of queens.


Harvester ant intraspecific competition mating partner 



We thank VAIC-CCI Yachimata centre for permitting us to collect ants. We are grateful to Michiko Fukumoto, Yuya Fukumoto and staff members of VAIC-CCI Yachimata centre for help collecting the queens. We thank two anonymous referees for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mamoru Takata
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cathleen E. Thomas
    • 3
  • Satoshi Koyama
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of AgricultureTokyo University of Agriculture and TechnologyTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of AgricultureKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.School of BiologyNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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