Incipient ant colonies are often under fierce competition, making fast growth crucial for survival. To increase production, colonies can adopt multiple queens (pleometrosis), fuse with other colonies or rob brood from neighboring colonies. However, different adoption strategies might have different impacts such as future queen fecundity or future colony size. O. smaragdina queen production was measured in incipient colonies with 2, 3 or 4 founding queens, following the transplantation of 0, 30 or 60 pupae from a donor colony. Pupae developed into mature workers, resulting in increased worker/queen ratios in pupae transplanted treatments and leading to increases in the per capita queen production. Conversely, more queens did not induce increased per capita fecundity. Thus, brood robbing added individuals to the worker force and increased future production of resident queens, whereas queen adoption increased the colony’s future production, but not the production of individual queens.
Journal of Insect Behavior, 2012, Vol 25, Issue 5, p. 478-485