Symbiotic ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) associated with aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in Golestan province, Iran

Document Type : Research articles


1 Department of Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Biodiversity, Institute of Science and High Technology and Environmental Sciences, Graduate University of Advanced Technology, Kerman, Iran


Mutualistic interaction between aphids and ants is one of the classical examples of mutualism. The current study was carried out during 2013-2014 in Golestan province, North-eastern Iran, to investigate the myrmecophilous aphids and their relationships with ants. In this study, 11 ant species representing seven genera and two subfamilies associated with 12 aphid species belonging to two subfamilies were collected on different host plants. Among aphid species, Aphis gossypii Glover 1877 and A. craccivora Koch 1854 were observed frequently associated with ants, while among ant species, Crematogaster subdentata Mayr 1877 and Plagiolepis taurica Santschi 1920 had more frequent interactions with aphids. Moreover, except Formica persica, all ant species were reported for the first time from Golestan province. More detailed studies are needed to investigate aphid–ant mutualistic relationships in Iran to understand their complicated relationships in nature.


Addicott, J.F., 1978a. Competition for mutualists: aphids and ants. Canadian Journal of Zoology 56, 2093-2096
Addicott, J.F., 1978b. The population dynamics of aphids on fireweed: a comparison of local populations and metapopulations. Canadian Journal of Zoology 56, 2554-2564.
Agosti, D., Collingwood, C., 1987. A provisional list of the Balkan ants (Hym. Formicidae) and a key to the worker caste. I. Synonymic list. Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft 60, 51-62.
Akyildirim, H., Senol, O., Gorur, G., Aktac, N., Demirtas, E., 2014. Determined aphid and ant associations from Trabzon, Rize and Artvin Provinces of the Turkey. Journal of the Entomological Research Society 16, 29-37.
Alipanah, H., Kharazi, A., Moghadassi, P., 1995. Taxonomical Study of Myrmicinae ants in Tehran. 12th Iranian plant protection congress; 2-7 Sep 1995, Karaj, Iran. tat organization press.
Alipanah, H., Kharazi, A., Moghadassi, P., 2000. Taxonomical study of formicinae ants in Tehran. 14th Iranian plant protection; 5-8 Sep 2000, Isfahan, Iran. Isfahan University of Technology.
Ardeh, M. 1994. Study on systematic and behavioral specialty of ants of Karaj region. M.Sc. thesis, Tehran University, Tehran, 108 pp. (In Persian)
Billick, I., Hammer, S., Reithel, J.S., Abbot, P., 2007. Ant-aphid interactions: Are ants friends, enemies, or both? Annals of the Entomological Society of America 100, 887-892.
Bolton, B., Ficken, L., 1994. Identification guide to the ant genera of the world. Cambridge University Press.
Bolton, B., Alpert, G., Ward, P. S., Naskrecki, P. 2006. Bolton's catalogue of ants of the world: 1758-2005. Cambridge Massachusetts, Harvard University Press.
Bracko, G., 2007. Checklist of the ants of Slovenia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Natura Sloveniae 9, 15-24.
Buckley, R., 1987. Interactions involving plants, Homoptera, and ants. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 18, 111-135.
Collingwood, C., Heatwole, H., 2000. Ants from Northwestern China (Hymenoptera, Fomicidae). Psyche: A Journal of Entomology 103, 1-24.
Collingwood, C.A., 1978. A provisional list of Iberian Formicidae with a key to the worker caste (Hymenoptera: Aculeata). Eos- Revista Espanola de Entomologia 52, 65-95.
Collingwood, C.A., Agosti, D., 1996. Formicidae (Insecta: Hymenoptera) of Saudi Arabia. Fauna of Saudi Arabia 15; 300-385.
Crawley, W., 1920. Ants from Mesopotamia and north-west Persia. Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation 32, 162-166.
Csosz, S., Radchenko, A., Schulz, A., 2007. Taxonomic revision of the Palaearctic Tetramorium chefketi species complex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 1405, 1-38.
Dixon, A.F.G., 1998. Aphid ecology an optimization approach: An optimization approach. Springer Science & Business Media.
Firouzi, F., Rad, S.P., Nezhad, S.H., Agosti, D., 2011. Four new records of ants from Iran: (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zoology in the Middle East 52, 71-78.
Fischer, M.K., Hoffmann, K.H., Völkl, W., 2001. Competition for mutualists in an ant-homopteran interaction mediated by hierarchies of ant attendance. Oikos 92, 531-541.
Flatt, T., Weisser, W.W., 2000. The effects of mutualistic ants on aphid life history traits. Ecology 81, 3522-3529.
Ghahari, H., Collingwood, C., Tabari, M., Ostovan, H., 2009. Faunistic notes on Formicidae (Insecta: Hymenoptera) of rice fields and surrounding grasslands in northern Iran. Munis Entomology & Zoology 4, 184-189.
Ghahari, H., Collingwood, C.A., 2011. A study on the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of southern Iran. Calodema 176, 1-5.
Ghasemi, M., Haji-zadeh, J., Alipanah, H., 2000. Study of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of pome fruit orchards (apple, pear, quince) in Mashad. 14th Iranian plant protetion congress, Isfahan, 5-8 Sep, Isfahan, Iran. Isfahan University of Technology.
Gholami, M., Afshari, A., Mafi Pashakolaei, S., 2012. The fauna and frequency of cottony cushion scale (Icerya purchasi Maskell) related ants (Hymenoptera : Formicidae) community in citrus orchards of Sari region, northern Iran. Proceeding of the 20th Iranian Congress; 26-29 Aug 2012, Shiraz, Iran. Shiraz University Press.
Hölldobler, B., 1990. The ants. Harvard University Press.
Hosseini, A., Modarres Awal, M., Hosseini, M. 2015. New faunistic records of Formicidae (Insecta: Hymenoptera) from Iran's Northeast. Asian Myrmecology, 7: 113-127
Hossein Nezhad, S.H., Rad, S.P., Firouzi, F., Agosti, D., 2012. New and additional records for the ant fauna from Iran (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zoology in the Middle East 55, 65-74.
Keller, L., Gordon, E., 2010. The lives of ants. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.
Mehrparvar, M., Zytynska, S.E., Weisser, W.W., 2013. Multiple cues for winged morph production in an aphid metacommunity. Plos One 8, e58323.
Mohammadi, S., Mossadegh, M.S., Esfandiari, M., 2012. Eight ants species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) new for the fauna of Iran. Munis Entomology & Zoology 7, 847-851.
Mortazavi, Z.S., Sadeghi, H., Aktac, N., Depa, Ł., Fekrat, L., 2015. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and their aphid partners (Homoptera: Aphididae) in Mashhad region, Razavi Khorasan Province, with new records of aphids and ant species for Fauna of Iran. Halteres 6, 4-12.
Moscaliuc, L., 2009. Notes on the distribution of the genus Plagiolepis Mayr, 1861 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Dobrogea, and the first record of Plagiolepis obscuriscapa Santschi, 1923 in Romania. Travaux du Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle Grigore Antipa 52, 297-301.
Okita, I., Murase, K., Sato, T., Kato, K., Hosoda, A., Terayama, M., Masuko, K., 2013. The spatial distribution of mtDNA and phylogeographic analysis of the ant Cardiocondyla kagutsuchi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Japan. Sociobiology 60, 129-134.
Paknia, O., Kami, H.G., 2007. New and additional records for the formicid fauna (Insecta: Hymenoptera) of Iran. Zoology in the Middle East 40, 85-90.
Paknia, O., Radchenko, A., Alipanah, H., Pfeiffer, M., 2008. A preliminary checklist of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Iran. Myrmecological News 11, 151-159.
Renault, C.K., Buffa, L.M., Delfino, M.A., 2005. An aphid-ant interaction: effects on different trophic levels. Ecological Research 20, 71-74.
Seifert, B., 1992. A taxonomic revision of the Palaearctic members of the ant subgenus Lasius s. str. (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Abhandlungen und Berichte des naturkundemuseums Görlitz 66, 1-67.
Seifert, B., 1997. Formica lusatica n. sp.-a sympatric sibling species of Formica cunicularia and Formica rufibarbis (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Abhandlungen und Berichte des Naturkundemuseums Görlitz 69, 3-16.
Seifert, B., 2003. The ant genus Cardiocondyla (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae)-a taxonomic revision of the C. elegans, C. bulgarica, C. batesii, C. nuda, C. shuckardi, C. stambuloffii, C. wroughtonii, C. emeryi, and C. minutior species groups. Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien. Serie B für Botanik und Zoologie, 203-338.
Seifert, B., 2007. Die Ameisen Mittel-und Nordeuropas. Lutra Verlags-und Vertriebsgesellschaft Tauer.
Seifert, B., Schultz, R., 2009. A taxonomic revision of the Formica rufibarbis FABRICIUS, 1793 group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 12, 255-272.
Shiran, E., Mossadegh, M.S., Esfandiari, M., 2013. Mutualistic ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) associated with aphids in central and southwestern parts of Iran. Journal of Crop Protection 2, 1-12.
Skinner, G.J., 1980. The feeding habits of the wood-ant, Formica rufa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), in limestone woodland in north-west England. Journal of Animal Ecology, 49, 417-433.
Stadler, B., Dixon, A.F.G., 1999. Ant attendance in aphids: why different degrees of myrmecophily? Ecological Entomology 24, 363-369.
Stadler, B., Dixon, A.F., 2005. Ecology and evolution of aphid-ant interactions. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematic, 345-372.
Stadler, B., Dixon, A.F.G., 2008. Mutualism: ants and their insect partners. Cambridge University Press, New York.
Sudd, J.H., 1987. Ant aphid mutualism. In: Minks, A.K., Harrewijn, P. (Eds.), Aphids, their biology, natural enemies and control Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 355-365.
Tilles, D.A., Wood, D.L., 1982. The influence of carpenter ant (Camponotus modoc) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) attendance on the development and survival of aphids (Cinara spp.) (Homoptera: Aphididae) in a giant sequoia forest. The Canadian Entomologist 114, 1133-1142.
Wettere, J.K., 2011. Worldwide Spread of Pheidole teneriffana (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Florida Entomologist 94, 843-847.