Thigmotaxis Mediates Trail Odour Disruption


Disruption of foraging using oversupply of ant trail pheromones is a novel pest management application under investigation. It presents an opportunity to investigate the interaction of sensory modalities by removal of one of the modes. Superficially similar to sex pheromone-based mating disruption in moths, ant trail pheromone disruption lacks an equivalent mechanistic understanding of how the ants respond to an oversupply of their trail pheromone. Since significant compromise of one sensory modality essential for trail following (chemotaxis) has been demonstrated, we hypothesised that other sensory modalities such as thigmotaxis could act to reduce the impact on olfactory disruption of foraging behaviour. To test this, we provided a physical stimulus of thread to aid trailing by Argentine ants otherwise under disruptive pheromone concentrations. Trail following success was higher using a physical cue. While trail integrity reduced under continuous over-supply of trail pheromone delivered directly on the thread, provision of a physical cue in the form of thread slightly improved trail following and mediated trail disruption from high concentrations upwind. Our results indicate that ants are able to use physical structures to reduce but not eliminate the effects of trail pheromone disruption.

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01958-z

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@inproceedings{Stringer2017ThigmotaxisMT, title={Thigmotaxis Mediates Trail Odour Disruption}, author={Lloyd D Stringer and Joshua E. Corn and Hyun Sik Roh and Alfredo Jim{\'e}nez-P{\'e}rez and L. M. Manning and Aimee R Harper and David M Suckling}, booktitle={Scientific reports}, year={2017} }