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Keywords:

  • Ant;
  • fission;
  • mate choice;
  • mating strategy

1. Sexual selection has been little studied in social insects. Nonetheless, because mating is generally for life, opportunities for selecting among mating partners should be exploited.

2. In some ants, males aggregate at nest entrances to mate with emerging gynes. Both males and females thus have access to multiple mates over a relatively protracted period, giving rise to opportunities for mate choice and multiple mating.

3. We provide data from field observations of the male mating biology of the ant, Cataglyphis cursor Fonscolombe. In this species, females mate with, on average, six males each at the nest entrance and found colonies with the help of workers.

4. Males were present at the field site for approximately 1 month in spring, with up to 40 males at a single nest entrance for, on average, 4.7 days. Individual males were observed to survive up to 3 days, and mate up to eight times.

5. Thus both males and females of this species have the ability to mate multiply and have a window permitting mate choice to occur. Workers actively attacked males and may take part in the mate choice process, making C. cursor an interesting model to study questions relating to sexual selection and male mating strategies.