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Keywords:

  • Pharaoh's ant;
  • Monomorium pharaonis;
  • caste;
  • brood recognition;
  • behaviour.

Abstract In colonies of the pharaoh's ant Monomorium pharaonis (L), new males and queens can be produced at any time by the removal of the inhibitory effect of the presence of existing fertile queens. When queens are absent, workers rear sexual larvae and will also accept sexual larvae introduced from other nests. However, in the presence of fertile queens workers cannibalize sexual brood, and will not accept male or queen larvae or pre-pupae from other nests, although worker brood is always accepted and reared. Worker larvae are covered in bifurcated hairs, whereas sexual larvae are essentially hairless. Workers may use these morphological cues to distinguish between sexual and worker brood stages.