Eur. J. Entomol. 108 (1): 47-52, 2011 | 10.14411/eje.2011.006

Some ethological aspects of the trophobiotic interrelations between ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and larvae of the sawfly Blasticotoma filiceti (Hymenoptera: Blasticotomidae)

Tatiana A. NOVGORODOVA, Olga B. BIRYUKOVA
Institute of Systematics and Ecology of Animals, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Frunze str. 11, Novosibirsk 630091, Russia; e-mail: tanovg@yandex.ru, Olya-bir@mail.ru

Some ethological aspects of the interrelations between ants and the larvae of Blasticotoma filiceti Klug, 1834 were investigated in the Altai Republic and Novosibirsk Region in 2006-2008. The interactions of ants with the larvae of this sawfly are determined by the concealed way of life style of B. filiceti. The majority of the ant-sawfly encounters occurred near holes in fern fronds at the moment when larvae excreted liquid or left their tunnels before descending to the soil prior to overwintering. Sawfly larvae visited by more aggressive ants, such as Formica s. str., leave the fern fronds slowly, which enables them to avoid inciting attacks by ants. The behaviour of the ants while collecting the larval excretion is similar to their behaviour at sugar troughs. The organisation of the collecting larval excreta by ants was investigated in detail in the cases of Formica polyctena Förster, 1850 and Myrmica rubra Linnaeus, 1758. The individual fern plants with sawfly larvae are attended by relatively constant groups of foragers in both cases. However, the highly social red wood ants interact with sawfly larvae in a more complex way. While the working groups of M. rubra tending sawfly larvae consist only of non-aggressive "unspecialized" foragers, those of F. polyctena include also a few "on duty" ants that protect the trophobionts, at least from the other ants.

Keywords: Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Formica polyctena, F. fusca, Myrmica rubra, M. ruginodis, Lasius platythorax, Camponotus sp., Blasticotomidae, Blasticotoma filiceti, behaviour, ants, trophobiosis, sawfly larvae, Siberia, Altai, Novosibirsk

Received: May 27, 2010; Accepted: July 8, 2010; Published: January 3, 2011

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