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Flower perianth: first observations on a novel diet item for the ponerine ant Odontomachus chelifer (Latreille)

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Autor(es):
Ana Gabriela Delgado Bieber ; Eduardo Roberto Pereira ; Claudia Bottcher
Número total de Autores: 3
Tipo de documento: Artigo Científico
Fonte: Revista Brasileira de Entomologia; v. 64, n. 3, p. -, 2020.
Resumo

Abstract Ants are known to feed on a variety of plant resources. Nevertheless, there are very few reports in the literature on ants using flower parts. Here, we describe how two Odontomachus chelifer (Latreille) ants teared and removed a part of an inner tepal of a Neomarica candida (Hassl.) (Iridaceae) flower at the restinga sandy forest in the Cardoso Island State Park, Brazil. To determine which part of the perianth attracted these ants, we performed two independent two-choice field assays: tepals (inner and outer tepals) were cut in two parts (basal and apical), with contrasting colors, which were offered to ants leaving a colony. Our results show that ants significantly preferred to remove or lick the basal part of the inner tepal. Based on the knowledge of N. candida’s floral anatomy, we hypothesize that ants were attracted by the nectar produced by trichomatic nectaries at the basal part of the inner tepals. These tepal parts containing nectar are likely to be used as an alternative food resource amid the scarcity of arthropods usually preyed or scavenged by O. chelifer, since the restinga forest is known as an arthropod-poor habitat. (AU)