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How social insects recognize dead nestmates
Date:5/5/2009

ggers necrophoric behavior by Argentine ants," he said.

Along with Rust and UCR's Jocelyn Millar, a professor of entomology, Choe used analytical chemistry techniques to identify the "signals of life" in the Argentine ant: the chemicals dolichodial and iridomyrmecin.

"These chemicals, or compounds similar to them, are found in numerous ant species that display necrophoresis," Choe said. "Therefore, these ant species also are likely to have necrophoric behavior triggered by the decrease or absence of chemical signs of life, rather than by cues associated with death. We plan to research this next."

He added that dolichodal, iridomyrmecin, or similar compounds are found also in other insects, such as thrips, stick insects, aphids and rove beetles.

"Understanding the exact mechanism of ant necrophoresis will help researchers develop a more environmentally friendly pest management strategy by which we can achieve results with smaller amounts of insecticide," Choe said. "A recent study on Argentine ants that we did in the lab indicated that nestmates can efficiently distribute slow-acting and non-repellent insecticides among themselves via necrophoresis. When an ant exposed to an insecticide dies in the nest, other ants carry its body around, with the insecticide transferring easily from the corpse to healthy ants."


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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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