The flexibility in behavior and strategies used by ants is both individual and collective. Here, we studied the behavior of individual ants during one-on-one interactions to gain insight into how resident ant species behave when they encounter incipient red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) colonies. The one-on-one interactions revealed that the red imported fire ant and Pheidole dentata (Mayr) were more “aggressive” compared with Solenopsis molesta (Say), Forelius pruinosus (Roger), Tetramorium bicarinatum (Nylander), Monomorium minimum (Buckley), and Monomorium pharonis (L.), which were more “defensive.” All of the species displayed “disturbed” behaviors such as excessive grooming, paralysis, and restlessness after being in contact with red imported fire ant. The apparent disparity in one-on-one interactions between a particular species and red imported fire ant illustrates how variation in these behavioral strategies can influence their success in defending themselves against red imported fire ant. The ant species tested also displayed a sequential behavior during the interaction, in which, certain subsequent behaviors were dependent on the preceding behaviors.
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Vol. 102 • No. 4