Interactions With Other Species

            Ant Being Consumed.

A Honeypot Ant Being Consumed by a Fungus (not mentioned in text). Photo by Alex Wild.

Forelius pruinosus, the dolichoderine ant, usually displaces the Myrmecocystus mexicanus at food baits. This shows interference competition between the species. This is usually most intense where the ant colony densities are high and were food supply is limited. These ants both compete for the fruits and flowers of the Yucca elata (Van Zee, 1997). The floral nectars from this plant provide a rich source for these liquid feeding ants. The fruit the yucca produces are often injured by the variety of animals, the wounds of the fruit exude a liquid and gum-like material which is collected by the ants. (Van Zee, 1997) Over lap of both species of ant was recorded on the fruit, which is surprising because M. mexicanus is nocturnal while Conomyrma species are diurnal. Myrmecocystus was absent on the stalks of the yucca while many other species of ants, including the dolichoderine ant was present. Because of the high numbers of dolichoderine ants on the yucca, this results in low numbers of honeypot ants on the yuccas. The dolichoderine ants secrete a chemical repellent of the honeypot ants leading to the low numbers on the yuccas. The presents of dolichoderine on the flowering stalk of the yucca either limits or eliminates the access of M. mexicanus to the yucca plants.

The Yucca elata is a perennial plant that is native to the southwestern United States. One average this plant grows from 1.2 to 4.5 meters tall (DesertUSA, 2013). It has a sparsely branched truck that is usually brown and cylindrical. The yuccas leaves are often arranged in a spiral whorl. Its fruit is a capsule which is usually 5 to 8 centimeters long (DesertUSa, 2013). The yucca does not flower every year. Yuccas do best in semi-arid conditions, they can handle cold temperatures but require lots of sun light (DesertUSA, 2013).

Photo of Yucca Elate. Photo by Clarence A. Rechenthin from




 Dolichoderine ants are a subfamily of ants that are found in many places around the world. These ants are one of the most greatly divers ant species found throughout the world including places like Malaysia, the Middle East, and the Southwestern United States (AntWeb, 2013). Instead of relying on a sting, like many ants, The dolichoderine ants form a chemical compound which is used in defensive situations. These ants like the honeypot ants also feed on honey as part of their diet (AntWeb, 2013).

The honeypot ant, M. mexicanus, interacts with both of these species. it interacts with the Yucca elata as a food source. It gets both nectar from the flowers as well as different substances from the fruit. M. mexicanus also interacts with a species of dolichoderine ant. The relationship between these species of ant is one of interference competition. Interference Competition is when one species attempts to exclude another from a particular food source (AntWeb, 2013). This competition effects M. mexicanus in what resources it can obtain from the Yucca elata. The honeypot ant can often use the fallen fruit from the Yucca as a food source but is very rarely seen on the Yucca plant itself (Van Zee et al.). This is due to the Dolichoderine ants and the hormone that they secrete as a repellant (Van Zee et al.).  

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