Formic acid is a substance produced by some ants for defense, trail marking, and recruitment. Some animals are known to rub ants or other arthropods on parts of their plumage or fur to anoint themselves with released substances. A recent study with a semifree-ranging group of capuchin monkeys, Cebus apella L., in the Tietê Ecological Park, Sao Paulo, Brazil, an area of occurrence of the tick species Amblyomma cajennense (F.), revealed that “anting” with carpenter ants, Camponotus rufipes F. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), occurs frequently, especially during the A. cajennense subadult season. Based on these observations, we tested the repellent effect of the formic acid and the ants themselves against A. cajennense and Amblyomma incisum Neumann nymphs, and Amblyomma parvum Aragão adult ticks in the laboratory. The results revealed a significant repellent effect of formic acid and ant secretion, and a significant duration of the repellent effect. The results suggest that the anting behavior of capuchin monkeys, and other vertebrates, may be related with repellence of ticks and other ectoparasites.
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Vol. 44 • No. 4