The queen discrimination abilities of laboratory-reared Camponotus japonicus workers were examined individually by allowing them to carry their nestmate larvae toward either the mother queen or an alien queen. Source colonies had been reared under controlled conditions from founding queens and maintained at small size (<=10 workers each). Fifty-two of fifty-four workers raised in these eight different colonies carried nestmate larvae to the mother queen, and never carried them to the alien queen. Most of them attended nestmate larvae but never alien larvae. These results clearly demonstrate that the tested workers discriminate the nestmate queen and larvae from non-nestmate conspecifics. The assay used in this study is novel and sensitive, and may be suitable for neuroethological and molecular studies of social discrimination mechanisms.
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