Dispersal of Phraortes illepidus (Phasmida: Phasmatidae) Eggs by Workers of the Queenless Ant, Pristomyrmex punctatus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)





capitula, hatching, mutualism, rearing experiment, stick insect


Eggs of some stick insects bear external appendages called capitula. Foraging worker ants attracted by capitula disperse eggs in a response similar to the responses of workers to elaiosome-bearing seeds of many plants. For this study, we conducted rearing experiments in the laboratory to elucidate the interspecific relation between the queenless ant, Pristomyrmex punctatus Smith, and the stick insect, Phraortes illepidus (Brunner von Wattenwyl) of which eggs bear capitula. Eggs of P. illepidus were proposed to P. punctatus in the laboratory. Capitula were removed from most of the eggs not only when ants were starved but also when ants were well-fed. In large rearing containers, eggs were transported by ants from their place of origin. Many eggs were transferred horizontally on the surface. Although some eggs were found in the artificial ant nests, it is likely that stick insects are not in active ant nests at the time of hatching in nature because of P. punctatus nest-moving habits. The percentage of eggs buried in the sand was small. Furthermore, most of the buried eggs were found at less than 3 cm depth. Results show that many P. illepidus hatchlings can reach host plants safely without being attacked by ant workers. These results suggest that P. punctatus can be a good partner of P. illepidus. Ants disperse eggs of slow-moving stink insects in exchange for some nutrition from capitula.


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Author Biographies

Yoshiyuki Toyama, Okayama University of Science

A graduate of Department of Informatics, Okayama University of Science

Izuru Kuroki, Okayama University of Science

Docter of Philiosophy in Mathematical and Environmental System Science

Keiji Nakamura, Okayama University of Science

Professor, Department of Biosphere-Geosphere Science


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How to Cite

Toyama, Y., Kuroki, I., & Nakamura, K. (2021). Dispersal of Phraortes illepidus (Phasmida: Phasmatidae) Eggs by Workers of the Queenless Ant, Pristomyrmex punctatus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology, 68(4), e7194. https://doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v68i4.7194



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