MUTUAL PHEROMONAL INHIBITION AMONG QUEENS IN POLYGYNE COLONIES OF THE FIRE ANT SOLENOPSIS-INVICTA
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Decrease in individual reproductive output with increasing numbers of reproductives is a general feature of social insect colonies. The previously described negative relationship between the fecundity of individual queens and number of resident queens in polygyne (multiple-queen) colonies of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta appears to result from mutual pheromonal inhibition. In an experimental test for the presence of fecundity reducing pheromones, corpses of functional (egg-laying) queens were found to effectively inhibit the fecundity of functional queens, suggesting that queen-produced pheromones suppress egg production in such queens. Evidence concerning a possible mechanism mediating this inhibition was also obtained. Treatment of queens with methoprene, a juvenile hormone (JH) analog, increased ovary development, suggesting that fecundity in functional queens may be mediated by the level of endogenous JH. These findings are consistent with the occurrence of mutual pheromonal inhibition among queens achieved by suppression of endogenous JH titers. 1992 Springer-Verlag.
BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY
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