Social Carrying and Defensive Behavior During Colony Emigration in the Leaf-cutting Ant Atta sexdens

Lohan Valadares, Fábio S. Nascimento


In this work, we describe for the first time and under laboratory conditions, the behaviors related to social carrying and defensive strategies during colony emigration in the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens. Once colonies were laid on a tray under suboptimal conditions, groups of workers aggregated all over the body surface of the queen and brood, with mandibles half open and legs widely open in a ‘entangle’ formation. Queens were the first caste to be reallocated, followed respectively by the transportation of brood, newly-emerged workers, and pieces of fungus garden to the new nesting site. Contrary to what have been reported to the Myrmicinae species, adult transport followed a stereotyped sequence of acts involving approach, seize and transportation of newly-emerged workers to new target areas. Our results suggest that, in front of rapid unfavorable changes, leaf-cutting ants are capable of reorganize the nest in order to protect their members and resources.


Animal behavior, adult transport, Atta sexdens

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