Behavioral investment in the neotropical fire ant Solenopsis saevissima (Smith, 1855) during the critical phase of colony establishment / Orçamento comportamental na formiga neotropical Solenopsis saevissima (Smith, 1855) durante a fase crítica de estabelecimento da colônia

Helba Helena Santos Prezoto, Mariana Monteiro de Castro, Ricardo Harakava, Fabio Prezoto


Behavioral investment of fire ant queens during the foundation of a new colony may be related to alone foundation (haplometrosis) or a group foundation (pleometrosis). Thus, the objective of the present study was to evaluate, through behavioral records, how Solenopsis saevissima queens behave during preemergence until the 3rd post-emergence week, in haplometrosis and pleometrosis, in the initial periods of the colony. For this, an ethogram of queens and workers were elaborated, to later evaluate the behavioral budget in both types of foundations. From a total behavioral budget of 8014 minutes of observation, it can be seen that the queen's behavioral acts change according to the colony cycle period (Pre-Egg Period, Egg Period, Larvae Period, Pupal Period and Post-Emergence Period), and that at first are directed to behaviors of exploration and interaction with the environment, such as walking and atennating the container and the tube. From the appearance of the first eggs, larvae or pupae, the interaction with the offspring becomes more intense. The post-emergency was first hit by haplometrosis queens and the workers started to actively protect the immature as well as do other activities. Thus, the period of the colony's development cycle is a determining factor in the manifestation of queens' behavior, which shows whether the foundation is alone or in groups.



Ethogram Exploration, Foundation, Immature, Parental care.

Full Text:



Adams ES, Tschinkel WR (1995) Effects of foundress number on brood raids and queen survival in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 37: 233 - 242

Altmann J (1974) Observational study of behavior: Sampling methods. Behavior 49: 227-267

Ayres M, Ayres Junior M, Ayres DLAS (2015) Aplicações estatísticas nas áreas das ciências biomédicas. Instituto Mamirauá. Belém

Bernasconi G, Keller L (1996) Reproductive conflicts in cooperative associations of fire ant queens (Solenopsis invicta). Proc R Soc Lond Ser B Biol Sci 263: 509 - 513

Cassill DL, Tschinkel WR (1995) Allocation of liquid food to larvae via trophallaxis in colonies of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Anim Behav 50: 801-813

Cassill DL, Tschinkel WR (1999a) Effects of colony-level attributes on larval feeding in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Insectes soc 46: 261 - 266

Cassill DL, Tschinkel WR (1999b) Regulation of diet in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. J Insec Behav 12(3): 307-328

Collin L, Scheffrahn RH (2001) Red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae). University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program.

Deheer CJ, Tschinkel WR (1998) The success of alternative reproductive tactics in monogyne populations of the ant Solenopsis invicta: significance for transitions in social organization. Behav Ecol 9 (2): 130-135

Glunn FJ, Howard DF, Tschinkel WR (1981) Food preference in colonies of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Insectes Soc 28(2):217-222

Hölldobler B, Wilson EO (1990) The Ants. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, pp. 732.

Keller L, Passera L (1989) Size and fat content of gynes in relation to the mode of colony founding in ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Oecologia 80: 236-240

Markin GP, Collins HL, Dillier JH (1972) Colony founding by queens of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Ann Entomol Soc Am 65:1053-1058

Mendonça R, Melo D, Prezoto F (2020) Evaluation of food selection of fire ant Solenopsis saevissima (Smith) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in resources with and without immature stages of Chrysomya albiceps (Wiedemann, 1819) (Diptera: Calliphoridae). Braz J of Develop 6(10): 74119-74136

Nonacs, P (1990) Size and kinship affect success of co-founding Lasius pallitarsis queens. Psyche J Entomol 97: 217-228

Pitts JP, Camacho GP, Gotzek D, Mchugh JV, Ross KG (2018) Revision of the fire ants of the Solenopsis saevissima species-group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Proc Entomol Soc Wash 120 (2): 308 - 411

Rissing SW, Pollock GB (1987) Queen aggression, pleometrotic advantage and brood raiding in the ant Veromessor pergandei (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Anim Behav 35:975-981

Rissing SW, Pollock GB, Higgins MR, Hagen RH, Smith DR (1989) Foraging specialization without relatedness or dominance among co-founding ant queens. Nature 338: 420-422

Rissing S W, Johnson RA, Martin JW (2000) Colony founding behavior of some desert ants: Geographic variation in metrosis. Psyche (Stuttg.)103: 95-101

Sá Júnior A, Carvalho LG, Silva FF, Carvalho AM (2012) Application of the Köppen classification for climatic zoning in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 108: 1-7

Souza DJ, Della Lucia TMC, Lacerda FG (2004) Fundação pleometrótica em Solenopsis saevissima (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) em laboratório. Acta Biologica Leopoldinensis 26 (2): 259-270

Tschinkel W, Howard D (1983) Colony founding by pleometrosis in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 12: 103-113

Tschinkel WR (1988a) Distribution of the fire ants Solenopsis invicta and S. geminata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Northern Florida in relation to habitat and disturbance. Annals of the Entomol Soc of Am, 81(1): 76 -81

Tschinkel WR (1988b) Social control of egg-laying rate in queens of the fire ants, Solenopsis invicta. Physiol Entomol 13: 327-350

Tschinkel WR (1993a) The fire ant (Solenopsis invicta): still unvanquished. Biological pollution: the control and impact of invasive exotic species. Ed. BN. MacKnight, Indiana Acad. Sci. Indianapolis, 261pp.

Tschinkel WR (1993b) Resource allocation, brood production and cannibalism during colony founding in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 33(4): 209-223

Tschinkel WR (1998) An experimental study of pleometrotic colony founding in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta: what is the basis for association? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 43: 247-257

Tschinkel WR, Mikheyev AS, Storz SR (2003) Allometry of workers of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. J Insect Sci 3:2-11

Tschinkel WR (2013) The morphometry of Solenopsis fire ants. PLoS ONE 8(11): e79559.

Zeringóta V, Castro MM, Della Lucia TMC, Prezoto F (2014) Nesting of the fire ant Solenopsis saevissima (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in an urban environment. Florida Ent 97: 668-673



  • There are currently no refbacks.