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Will Queens Accept Cocoons From Other Colonies?

Today we have a question for the Consult-Ant:

My little sister has recently found me (clever girl!) 4 ant queens from various places around my garden :). Being so little she can spot them a lot more easily ha ha! I have recently (cheekly) 'robbed' coccoons for them from a neigbouring/non-family nest and put them in with two of my ant queens. Will they hatch and fight the queens or will they adopt them?

Thanks,

Johnny C

Johnny,

Adding cocoons from nearby colonies is a great way to get a colony going quickly, but only if the cocoons are from the same species or a closely-related one. Bert Hölldobler and E.O. Wilson talk about this on page 203 of their book The Ants.

Because the workers emerge in the new nest, they will accept the nest and the queen as their own. But once the queen starts to produce her own new workers, problems may arise. It seems that worker ants from another species apparently can recognize the newly emerged ants as different, and may attack and kill them.

The only other thing I would caution you about is being careful not to introduce parasites, mites or diseases from other colonies with the cocoons.
-The Consult-Ant

(Note: As I mentioned previously, I have been the “Consult-Ant” on the Leaping from the Box website. I answer questions about ants and ant farms. From now on I will post the answers here, and when Karen has time she will also post the answers on her site.)

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