Images of Pogonomyrmex subdentatus in Nevada, USA. Scroll down PAST BOTTOM OF PAGE for complete image description, and CLICK large image to make it even LARGER...
***There may be multiple image pages; use page/image controls below to see them all!***
● Lahontan S.R.A. (loc74) [Churchill Co], NV USA [el. 1219 m / 4000 ft] view location in Google Maps » ● 9/23/11 7:15AM sunny, breezy, air temp: 19°C / 66°F
Two Pogonomyrmex subdentatus workers near their nest entrance. The ant on the left is carrying excavated sand from the nest interior, and each worker is sweeping the other with her antennae. [scroll down for additional notes/references]
It is common to see workers waving their antennae over each other as they come and go around the nest entrance. Ants from the same colony have a distinctive odor (detectable by the ants) - and with a quick sweep of the antennae, a worker can chemically discriminate between a nestmate and an intruder. The ants can also receive and transmit important task, and status-related cues that help regulate foraging and other behaviors (including those concerning reproductive status). This is all facilitated by chemical compounds (hydrocarbons) that are produced within the ants' bodies, and that eventually reside on the outer layer of the ant's exoskeleton (cuticle). The frequent grooming by ants, of nestmates and themselves, helps distribute these nest/task/status-recognition labels throughout the colony.
·Greene, M.J. & D.M. Gordon. 2007. How Patrollers Set Foraging Direction in Harvester Ants. The American Naturalist, Vol. 170, No. 6, December 2007
·Hölldobler, B. & E.O. Wilson.1990. The Ants. Cambridge, MA, Belknap/Harvard Press
·Hölldobler, B. & E.O. Wilson. 2009. The Superorganism. W.W. Norton & Company, New York and London
·Wagner, D.,M. Tissot, W. Cuevas, and D.M. Gordon. 2000. Harvester Ants Utilize Cuticular Hydrocarbons in Nestmate Recognition. Journal of Chemical Ecology, Vol. 26, No. 10, 2000