Mating Behavior of the African Weaver Ant, Oecophylla longinoda(Latreille) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
Keywords:Mating behavior, nuptial flight, weaver ant rearing, Oecophylla longinoda, Tanzania.
Mating in most species of ants occurs during nuptial flights. In the African weaver ant, Oecophylla longinoda Latreille, mating has previously been hypothesized to take place within the nest before the nuptial flight. However, several researchers disagree with this supposition particularly with reference to the closely related species Oecopylla smaragdina (Fabricius) whose mating occur during nuptial flights. Understanding the mating strategy of O. longinoda is of importance for its successful application in biological control programs. We conducted field and screen house experiments during two mating seasons to determine whether the mating occur prior to the dispersal flight. We examined winged O. longinoda queens on the nest surface before taking flight, immediately after leaving the nest, up to twelve hours (12h) after leaving the nest and after settling naturally following the dispersal flights. Mating in captivity between different number of males and queens were also assessed. Only eggs produced by queens (N=65) collected after their natural settling hatched into larvae. No eggs hatched from any of the 527 winged queens that were collected prior to their dispersal flights and no mating attempts in captivity lead to viable offspring. Findings from the current study suggest that mating of O. longinoda queens take place during a nuptial flight and does not take place within the nest, as previously suggested.
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