EVIDENCE FOR COLONY FOUNDING BY HAPLOMETROSIS IN THE BIG-HEADED ANT, PHEIDOLE MEGACEPHALA
The infestation, movement, and survival of mealybugs associated with wilt disease in pineapple fields is dependent on the presence and movement of ants. The big-headed ant, Pheidole megacephala Fabricius, is the predominant species infesting pineapple in Hawaii. Previous studies demonstrated that P. megacephala can infest ant-free pineapple fields by budding, but no evidence was found for haplometrosis (i.e. colony founding by a single queen independent of other castes). Current ant-control strategies are based on the assumption that ants only invade fields by budding. This paper presents evidence that BHA can establish new colonies by haplometrosis. Solitary queens began to lay eggs 1–2 days after setup and worker densities reached those found in swarm-created colonies 200 days after setup. Although these laboratory results have not been verified in the field, they suggest that current ant control practices may need to be reevaluated.
Reimer, Neil J. and Gonzalez-Hernandez, H. (1993). EVIDENCE FOR COLONY FOUNDING BY HAPLOMETROSIS IN THE BIG-HEADED ANT, PHEIDOLE MEGACEPHALA. Acta Hortic. 334, 397-406