Predatory behavior and chemical communication in two Metapone species (Hymenoptera:Formicidae)

Bert Hölldobler, Neil J. Oldham, Gary D. Alpert, Jürgen Liebig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Colonies of two species of Metapone (M. madagascarica, M. new species.) were collected in Madagascar and established in laboratory nests. It could be demonstrated that both species are specialist predators of termites (Cryptotermes kirbyi). During hunting the ants sting the termites and thereby paralyze and preserve the prey alive. In this way prey can be stored in the ant nest for extended periods. During foraging and colony emigrations the ants lay chemical trails with poison gland secretions. Among the seven compounds identified in the venom only methyl pyrrole-2-carboxylate elicits trail following behavior in both Metapone species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-151
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Poison gland
  • Prey storage
  • Pyrrole derivative
  • Termite predation
  • Trail pheromone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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