What is it about?

The secretion from the mandibular glands of males of the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens rubropilosa is responsible for the reaction of workers outside the nest at the time of sexual swarming. Workers respond with excitability and aggression when presented with the natural mixture of 4-methyl-3-heptanol and 4-methyl-3-heptanone, which is contained in the secretion of the male mandibular glands. Workers respond quickly to fractional amounts of one male equivalent. 4-Methyl-3-heptanone, from the virgin female mandibular glands causes much less response in workers, whereas an equimolar mixture of male and female pheromones gives a still less clear response.

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Why is it important?

The male pheromone plays the most important part in the communication of workers outside the nest at this time.


New studies about secretions from mandibular glands of leaf-cutting ants could be important for the reaction of workers outside the nest during sexual swarming.

Full Professor José Mauricio Simões Bento
Universidade de Sao Paulo Campus de Piracicaba

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This page is a summary of: Response of workers of Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) to mandibular gland compounds of virgin males and females, Physiological Entomology, September 2007, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3032.2007.00570.x.
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