Colony Wide Behavioral Contexts of Stridulation in Imported Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta Buren)

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Red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, possess stridulatory organs and stridulate in a variety of contexts. We used a stethoscope mounted microphone to study stridulation at the colony level in the context of emigration, disturbance, and excavation. In conjunction with preliminary observations of nest and foraging activities, our results suggest stridulation serves multiple functions in S. invicta. Stridulation was not significantly increased in colonies during responses to disturbance, and only marginally during colony emigration. Colonies involved in excavation, however, exhibited a significant increase in stridulatory activity. Four possible explanations for the function of stridulation in this context are discussed in relation to the stridulatory behavior of individuals, solitary wasps, and published literature on formicid stridulation.

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