Recruitment pheromones in the ants Aphaenogaster albisetosus and A. cockerelli (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

B. Hölldobler, N. J. Oldham, E. D. Morgan, W. A. König

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The volatile part of the poison gland secretion of A. albisetosus has been identified as principally a mixture of (S)- and (R)-4-methyl-3-heptanone in the ratio 8:2. A. albisetosus workers readily follow trails of synthetic (±)-4-methyl-3-heptanone and are attracted to it as a point source. The poison gland secretions of Aphaenogaster cockerelli contains a mixture of (R)-1-phenylethanol (87.8%) and (S)-4-methyl-3-heptanone (10.4%). Synthetic (R)-1-phenylethanol has been demonstrated to reproduce the behavioural activity of a worker poison gland in inducing trail-following, even at one-hundredth of a poison-gland equivalent, and in attracting foragers to a point source. The 4-methyl-3-heptanone does not induce trail-following behaviour, but if presented at the nest entrance, can stimulate the workers to leave the nest. The chemical results explain why A. cockerelli are unable to follow trails of A. albisetosus, but A. albisetosus are able to follow trails made with the gland contents of A. cockerelli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-744
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of insect physiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • 1-Phenylethanol
  • 4-Methyl-3-heptanol
  • 4-Methyl-3-heptanone
  • Foraging
  • Recruitment pheromones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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