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Nest blocking aggression: When Ants Troll the Neighbors


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#1 Offline futurebird - Posted March 24 2024 - 4:43 AM

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(Image from Stone dropping by Conomyrma bicolor)

 

Ants are not often thrilled to have other ants as neighbors. They sometimes express distaste by locating their garbage pile on the nest entrance of unwanted ants next door. They may even collect debris for the singular purpose of plugging up the offending hole. (Jordan Dean has recorded Camponotus consobrinus in Australia doing this, and it seems Dorymyrmex, formerly Conomyrma do it too. Here is a link to the time-stamp in his video about this interaction. This has also been documented in the lit by Hodobler in 1984 only he observed Camponotus consobrinus nests being blocked by Iridomyrmex pruinosus, or rainbow meat ants... implying multiple nest blocking interactions in multi-species communities of ants)

This behavior is called "stone dropping" or "soil dropping" in the lit. (Rather than "trolling") also sometimes "nest-plugging."

 

Many ants will put sand and stones on puddles near their nest since puddles pose a drowning risk. It's a safety measure. Ants see liquid as dangerous and respond with "put rocks on it" ... I wonder if putting debris on your neighbors nest is a variation on this behavior. Maybe involving similar pheromones? It could also be that unwanted neighbors and the trash pile are part of a similar category for ants... which is hilarious.

 

 

See Also:

  • Nest-plugging: interference competition in desert ants (Novomessor cockerei and Pogonomyrmex barbatus) Deborah M. Gordon, Museum of Comparative Zoology and Society of Fellows, Harvard University
  • Tool use in pavement battles between ants: first report of Tetramorium immigrans (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) using soil-dropping as an interference strategy Enrico Schifani, Cristina Castracani, Daniele Giannetti, Fiorenza A. Spotti, Alessandra Mori & Donato A. Grasso
  • Konkurrenzverhalten und Territorilat in Ameisenpopulationen. In: Eisner, Holldobler, Lindauer  (1984) Information Processing in Animals vol 3. Fischer, New York, pp 25 70
  • Stone dropping by Conomyrma bicolor (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): A new technique of interference DOI:10.1007/s00040-022-00876-2

 

I was able to find pdfs of all of these papers online except for "Tool use in pavement battles between ants" and "Konkurrenzverhalten und Territorilat in Ameisenpopulationen" if anyone could help me find either of these I would love to read them... especially the one in English. 


Edited by futurebird, March 24 2024 - 4:48 AM.

  • rptraut, Ernteameise and Artisan_Ants like this

Starting this July I'm posting videos of my ants every week on youTube.

I like to make relaxing videos that capture the joy of watching ants.

If that sounds like your kind of thing... follow me >here<


#2 Offline Flu1d - Posted March 24 2024 - 5:51 AM

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I had a video on my old phone of Pheidole obscurithorax and Prenolepis imparis fighting over a grub.

The pheidole couldn't fit it in their nest entrance, and the Preno's got there and started cleaning house. They eventually were either spraying or dripping formic acid all into the Pheidole entrance and then started clogging it up so they couldn't reinforce their numbers.

It was wild to watch how strategic the Preno's were.
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#3 Offline futurebird - Posted April 1 2024 - 5:31 PM

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Over on the fediverse @ollicle@mastodon.social shared this hilarious video of a sugar ant doing just that to Rhytidoponera mayri (Pony Ants)

In this video watch the little red and black ant near the top. She throws a stick in the Rhytidoponera nest... then runs off to find a bigger one.  The Rhytidoponera are larger black ants and moving more slowly as they try to clean out their nest entrance (how long has this ben going on?) The sugar ant runs off before she can be caught in the act.

 

 

(Video originally posted here: https://sauropods.wi...94596592077739)


  • Ernteameise likes this

Starting this July I'm posting videos of my ants every week on youTube.

I like to make relaxing videos that capture the joy of watching ants.

If that sounds like your kind of thing... follow me >here<





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