Magnetosensibility and Magnetic Properties of Ectatomma brunneun Smith, F. 1858 Ants


  • Márlon César Pereira Universidade Federal da Grande Dourados - UFGD, Dourados MS
  • Maria da Graça Cardoso Pereira-Bomfim Universidade Federal da Grande Dourados - UFGD, Dourados MS
  • Ingrid de Carvaho Guimarães Universidade Estadual de Mato Grosso do Sul - UEMS, Dourados MS
  • Candida Anitta Pereira Rodrigues Universidade Federal da Grande Dourados - UFGD, Dourados MS
  • Jilder Peña Serna Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Fisicas, CBPF, Rio de Janeiro, RJ
  • Daniel Acosta-Avalo Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Físicas CBPF, Rio de Janeiro, RJ
  • William Fernando Antonialli-Junior Universidade Estadual de Mato Grosso do Sul - UEMS, Dourados MS



Aggression, Ectatomminae, magnetometry, insect behavior


The aim of the present paper is to study magnetosensibility and to seek for magnetic nanoparticles in ants. The social insects, by living in colonies, developed very efficient methods of nestmate recognition, being less tolerant towards individuals from other colonies. Therefore, any kind of strange behavior between nestmates and/or conspecifics, besides those present in their own behavioral repertoire, is not expected. The behavior study in the present paper analyze whether changes in the intensity of applied magnetic fields on Ectatomma brunneun (Smith) ants can cause changes in the normal pattern of interaction between conspecifics. A pair of coils generating a magnetic field was used to change the whole local geomagnetic field. Magnetometry studies were done on abdomens and head + antennae using a SQUID magnetometer. The results show that changes in the geomagnetic field affect the usual pattern of interactions between workers from different colonies. The magnetometry results show that abdomens present superparamagnetic nanoparticles and heads present magnetic single domain nanoparticles. Behavior experiments show for the first time that Ectatomma brunneun ants are magnetosensible. The change in nestmate recognition of Ectatomma ants observed while a magnetic field is applied can be associated to some kind of disturbance in a magnetosensor presented in the body based on magnetic nanoparticles.


Download data is not yet available.


Acosta-Avalos, D., Wajnberg, E., Oliveira, O.S., Leal, I., Farina, M. & Esquivel, D.M.S. (1999). Isolation of magnetic nanoparticles from Pachycondyla marginata ants. Journal of Experimental Biology, 202: 2687-2692. DOI:

Anderson, J.B. & Vander Meer, R.K. (1993). Magnetic orientation in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Naturwissenschaften, 80: 568-570. doi: 10.1007/BF01149274 DOI:

Alves, O.C., Srygley, R.B., Riveros, A.J., Barbosa, M.A., Esquivel, D.M.S. & Wajnberg, E. (2014). Magnetic anisotropy and organization of nanoparticles in heads and antennae of neotropical leaf-cutter ants, Atta colombica. Journal of Physics D: Applied. Physics, 47: 435401. doi: 10.1088/0022-3727/47/43/435401 DOI:

Chen, J.S.C. & Nonacs, P. (2000). Nestmate recognition and intraspecific aggression based on environmental cues in Argentine ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 93: 1333-1337. doi: 10.1603/0013-8746(2000)093[1333:NRAIAB]2.0.CO;2 DOI:[1333:NRAIAB]2.0.CO;2

Crozier, R.H. & Pamilo, P. (1996). Evolution of Social Insect Colonies: Sex Allocation and Kin-Selection. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Dell, A.I., Pawa,r S. & Savage, V.M. (2011). Systematic variation in the temperature dependence of physiological and ecological traits. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 108: 10591-10596. doi 10.1073/pnas.1015178108 DOI:

Dell, A.I., Pawar, S & Savage, V.M. (2014). Temperature dependence of trophic interactions are driven by asymmetry of species responses and foraging strategy. Journal of Animal Ecology, 83: 70-84. doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12081 DOI:

d’Ettorre, P. & Lenoir, A. (2010). Nestmate recognition. In: Lach L., Parr C., Abbott K., editors. Ant Ecology. 1st ed (pp. 194-209). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. DOI:

Deutsch, C.A., Tewksbury, J.J., Huey, R.B., Sheldon, K.S., Ghalambor, C.K., Haak, D. & Martin, P.R. (2008). Impacts of climate warming on terrestrial ectotherms across latitude. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,USA, 105: 6668-6672. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0709472105 DOI:

Dunn, R. & Messier, S. (1999). Evidence for the opposite of the dear enemy phenomenon in termites. Journal of Insect Behavior, 12: 461-464. DOI:

Frizzi, F., Ciofi, C., Dapporto, L., Natali, C., Chelazzi, G., Turillazzi, S. & Giacomo, Santini. (2015) The rules of aggression: How genetic, chemical and spatial factors affect intercolony fights in a dominant species, the mediterranean acrobat ant Crematogaster scutellaris. PLoS One 10: e0137919. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137919 DOI:

Gilbert, B., Tunney, T.D., McCann, K.S., DeLong, J.P., Vasseur, D.A., Savage, V., Shurin, J.B., Dell, A.I., Barton, B.T., Harley, C.D.G., Kharouba, H.M., Kratina, P., Blanchard, J.L., Clements, C., Winder, M., Greig, H.S. & O'Connor, M.I. (2014). A bioenergetic framework for the temperature dependence of trophic interactions. Ecology Letters, 17: 902-914. doi: 10.1111/ele.12307 DOI:

Gordon, D.M. (1989). Ants distinguish neighbor from strangers. Oecologia, 81: 198-200. doi: 10.1007/BF00379806 DOI:

Helanterä, H., Lee, Y.R., Drijfhout, F.P. & Martin, S.J. (2011). Genetic diversity, colony chemical phenotype, and nest mate recognition in the ant Formica fusca. Behavioral Ecology, 22: 710-716. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arr037 DOI:

Huey, R.B., Kearney, M.R., Krockenberger, A., Holtum, J.A., Jess, M. & Williams, S.E. (2012). Predicting organismal vulnerability to climate warming: roles of behaviour, physiology and adaptation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 367: 1665-1679. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0005 DOI:

Johnsen, S. & Lohmann, K.J. (2005). The physics and neurobiology of magnetoreception. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 6: 703-712. doi: 10.1038/nrn1745 DOI:

Jutsum, A.R, Saunders, T.S. & Cherrett, J.M. (1979). Intraspecific aggression in the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex octospinosus. Animal Behaviour, 27: 839-844. doi: 10.1016/0003-3472(79)90021-6 DOI:

Kermarrec, A. (1981). Sensibilite a un champ magnetique artificial et reaction d’evitement chez Acromyrmex octospinosus (Reich) (Formicidae, Attini). Insectes Sociaux, 28: 40-46. doi: 10.1007/BF02223621 DOI:

Liang, D. & Silverman, J. (2000). “You are what you eat”: Diet modifies cuticular hydrocarbons and nestmate recognition in the Argentine ant, Linepithema humile. Naturwissenschaften, 897: 412-416. doi: 10.1007/s001140050752 DOI:

Lucano, M.J., Cernicchiaro, G., Wajnberg, E &, Esquivel, D.M.S. (2006). Stingless bee antennae: a magnetic sensory organ? Biometals, 19: 295-300. doi: 10.1007/s10534-005-0520-4 DOI:

Matthews, R.W. & Matthews, J.R. (2010). Insect Behaviour. London, UK: Springer, 513 p. DOI:

Monnin, T. & Peeters, C. (1999). Dominance hierarchy and reproductive conflicts among subordinates in a monogynous queenless ant. Behavioral Ecology, 10: 323-332. doi: 10.1093/beheco/10.3.323 DOI:

Newey, P.S., Robson, K.S.K.A. & Crozier, R.H. (2010). Weaver ants Oecoplylla smaragdina encounter nasty neighbors rather than dear enemies. Ecology, 9: 2366-2372. doi: 10.1890/09-0561.1 DOI:

Oliveira, J.F., Wajnberg, E., Esquivel, D.M.S., Weinkauf, S., Winklhofer, M. & Hanzlik, M. (2010). Ant antennae: are they sites for magnetoreception? Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 7: 143-152. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2009.0102 DOI:

Peck, M.A., Huh, Y., Skomski, R., Zhang, R., Kharel, P., Allison, M.D., Sellmyer, D.J. & Langell, M.A. (2011). Magnetic properties of NiO and (Ni,Zn)O nanoclusters. Journal of Applied Physics, 109: 07B518. doi: 10.1063/1.3556953 DOI:

Pereira-Bomfim, M.G.C., Antonialli-Junior, W.F. & Acosta-Avalos, D. (2015). Effect of magnetic field on the foraging rhythm and behavior of the swarm-founding paper wasp Polybia paulista Ihering (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Sociobiology, 62: 99-104. doi: 10.13102/sociobiology.v62i1.99-104 DOI:

Pereira, M.C., Firmino, E.L.B., Bernardi, R.C., Lima, L.D., Guimarães, I.C., Cardoso, C.A.L. & Antonialli-Junior, W.F. (2019). Dear enemy phenomenon in the ant Ectatomma brunneum (Formicidae: Ectatomminae): Chemical signals mediate intraspecifc aggressive interactons. Sociobiology, 66: 218-226. doi: 10.13102/sociobiology.v66i2.3554 DOI:

Ratnieks, F.L.W., Foster, K.R. & Wenseleers, T. (2006). Conflict resolution in insect societies. Annual Review of Entomology, 51: 581-608. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.51.110104.151003 DOI:

Sanada-Morimura, S., Minai, M., Yokoyama, M., Hirota, T., Satoh, T. & Obara, Y. (2003). Encounter-induced hostility to neighbors in the ant Pristomyrmex pungens. Behavioral Ecology, 14: 713-718. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arg057 DOI:

Sorvari, J., Theodora, P., Turillazzi, S., Hakkarainen, H. & Sundsteöm, L. (2008). Food resources, chemical signaling, and nestmate recognition in the ant Formica aquilonia. Behavioral Ecology, 19: 441-447. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arm160 DOI:

Sturgis, S.J. & Gordon, M.D. (2012). Nestmate recognition in ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): a review. Myrmecological News, 16: 101-110.

Suarez, A.V., Tsuitsui, N.D., Holway, D.A. & Case, T.J. (1999). Behavioral and genetic differentiation between native and introduced populations of the Argentine ant. Biological Invasions, 1: 43-53. doi: 10.1023/A:1010038413690 DOI:

Sunday, J.M., Bates, A.E., Kearney, M.R, Colwell, R.K., Dulvy, N.K., Longino, J.T. & Huey, R.B. (2014). Thermal-safety margins and the necessity of thermoregulatory behavior across latitude and elevation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 111: 5610-5615. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1316145111 DOI:

Temeless, E.J. (1994). The role of neighbours in territorial systems: when are they “dear enemies?” Animal Behaviour, 47: 339-350. doi: 10.1006/anbe.1994.1047 DOI:

Thomas, M.L., Tsutsui, N.D. & Holway, D.A. (2004). Intraspecific competition influences the symmetry and intensity of aggression in the Argentine ant. Behavioral Ecology, 16: 472-481. doi: 10.1093/beheco/ari014 DOI:

van Zweden, J.S, Dreier, S. & d’Ettorre, P. (2009). Disentangling environmental and heritable nestmate recognition cues in a carpenter ant. Journal of Insect Physiology, 55: 158-163. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2008.11.001 DOI:

van Zweden, J.S. & d’Ettorre, P. (2010). Nestmate recognition in social insects and the role of hydrocarbons. In: Blomquist G.J., Bagnères A.G., editors. Insect hydrocarbons biology, biochemistry, and chemical ecology. 1st ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 222 - 243. DOI:

Vasseur, D.A., DeLong, J.P., Gilbert, B., Greig, H.S., Harley, C.D.G., McCann, K.S., Savage, V., Tunney, T.D. & O’Connor, M.I. (2014). Increased temperature variation poses a greater risk to species than climate warming. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281: 20132612. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2612 DOI:

Vowles, D.M. (1954). The orientation of ants. II. Orientation to light, gravity and polarized light. Journal of Experimental Biology, 31: 356-375. DOI:

Wajnberg, E., Acosta-Avalos, D., El-Jaick, L.J., Abraçado, L., Coelho, J.L.A., Bakuzis, A.F., Morais, P.C. & Esquivel, D.M.S. (2000). Electron paramagnetic resonance study of the migratory ant Pachycondyla marginata abdomens. Biophysical Journal, 78: 1018-1023. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(00)76660-4 DOI:

Wajnberg, E., Cernicchiaro, G. & Esquivel, D.M.S. (2004). Antennae: the strongest magnetic part of the migratory ant. Biometals, 17: 467-470. doi: 10.1023/B:BIOM.0000029443.93732.62 DOI:

Wajnberg, E., Acosta-Avalos, D., Alves, O.C., de Oliveira, J.F., Srygley, R.B. & Esquivel, D.M.S. (2010). Magnetoreception in eusocial insects: an update. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 7: S207-S225. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2009.0526.focus DOI:

Walther, G.R., Post, E., Convey, P., Menzel, A., Parmesank, C., Beebee, T.J.C., Fromentin, J.M., Hoegh-Guldberg, O. & Bairlein, F. (2002). Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature 416: 389-395. doi: 10.1038/416389a DOI:

Wiltschko, W. & Wiltschko, R. (2005). Magnetic orientation and magnetoreception in birds and other animals. Journal of Comparative Physiology, 191: 675-693. doi: 10.1007/s00359-005-0627-7 DOI:

Woods, H.A., Dillon, M.E. & Pincebourde, S. (2015). The roles of microclimatic diversity and of behavior in mediating the responses of ectotherms to climate change. Journal of Thermal Biology, 54: 86-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jtherbio.2014.10.002 DOI:

Youk H (2005) Numerical study of quadrupole magnetic traps for neutral atoms: anti-Helmholtz cois and a U-chip. Canadian Undergraduate Physics Journal, 3: 13-18.

Zinck, L., Hora, R.R., Chaline, N. & Jaisson, P. (2008). Low intraspecific aggression level in the polydomous and facultative polygynous ant Ectatomma tuberculatum. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 126: 211-216. doi: 10.1111/j.1570-7458.2007.00654.x DOI:




How to Cite

Pereira, M. C., Pereira-Bomfim, M. da G. C., Guimarães, I. de C., Rodrigues, C. A. P., Serna, J. P., Acosta-Avalo, D., & Antonialli-Junior, W. F. (2021). Magnetosensibility and Magnetic Properties of Ectatomma brunneun Smith, F. 1858 Ants. Sociobiology, 68(1), e5188.



Research Article - Ants

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>