posted on Nov, 1 2002 @ 10:43 AM
Gay Ants!!! ROCK!!!!
How 'not-so-macho' ants keep on mating
A type of not-so-macho male ant stays out of trouble by wearing lady's perfume and acting like a queen, scientists have revealed.
The insects avoid confrontation by smelling like a female, which allows them to live peaceably among their violent nestmates.
Male ants of the tropical species Cardiocondyla obscurior come in two varieties - wingless and aggressive or winged and docile, said the
Both compete for access to virgin queens in the nest. Wingless "ergatoid" males are armed with sabre-like mandibles and fight to the death until
only one remains.
Winged males, on the other hand, have weak jaws and enjoy a much more peaceful existence.
After birth, they stay in the nest for a week or two before flying off in search of mates outside. Surprisingly, while in the nest they mate just as
often as their wingless brethren, but never get hurt.
Sylvia Cremer, from the University of Regensburg in Germany, and colleagues, found their secret of survival was an ability to produce scent chemicals
very similar to those of the queens.
The wingless males not only avoided attacking the "ladyboy" ants, but seemed to find them sexually arousing. On numerous occasions they were seen
trying to mate with the winged males.
"Our behavioural observations indicate that young winged males (one to five days old) are as attractive as young virgin queens to ergatoid males,"
the researchers reported in the journal Nature.
"This toleration of winged males and attempts at homosexual mating with them can be explained by the chemical resemblance of winged males and virgin
queens in their bouquet of cuticular hydrocarbons on the body surface, which are important for communication in social insects."
Story filed: 19:40 Wednesday 30th October 2002