News of the WeekEvolutionary Biology

Queens, Not Workers, Rule the Ant Nest

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Science  17 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5533, pp. 1239-1241
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5533.1239a

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Queen fire ants not only populate their colonies, but they can also influence its sex ratio by limiting the number of female eggs they produce. This finding, reported on page 1308, is contrary to expectation. Most entomologists thought that the workers, the queen's female daughters who actually raise the colony's young, determine the ratio of males to females, as they have the ability to kill or starve unwanted eggs.