Chemical Communication and "Propaganda" in Slave-Maker Ants

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Science  16 Apr 1971:
Vol. 172, Issue 3980, pp. 267-269
DOI: 10.1126/science.172.3980.267


Slave-maker ants of the Formica sanguinea group direct their raids by means of odor trails. Artificial trails made from whole-body extracts and extracts of Dufour's glands and hindguts can be used to guide columns of workers to selected target colonies and to initiate raids. In workers of F. pergandei and F. subintegra, members of the F. sanguinea group, the Dufour's glands are hypertrophied and contain large quantities of three acetates (decyl, dodecyl, and tetradecyl), which are discharged at defending workers during the slave raids. The acetates produce very efficient, long-lasting alarm signals that attract the slave-makers but disperse the defenders; in effect, therefore, they are "propaganda substances."