The Ant Queen’s Chemical Crown Keeps Her Workers Infertile

ant queen

The ant queen is the only one that reproduces unless she dies or is removed.

The defining feature of social insects is that societies contain queens, which specialise in laying eggs, as well as workers, which are mostly infertile but take care of the offspring and the nest. However, when the queen dies or is re-moved, workers begin laying eggs of their own. Previous observations have suggested that queens possess a specific pheromone which keeps the workers infertile, but the pheromone has never been identified except in the well-studied honeybee.

 

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