Workers of the slave-making ant, Polyergus breviceps, raid nests of Formica ants and return with Formica pupae that mature into worker ants in the slave-makers’ colony. These Formica workers then tend the Polyergus brood, workers, and reproductives. During raids in the mating season, winged virgin Polyergus queens accompany the workers in the raiding columns. During the raid, the virgin queens release a pheromone that attracts males that quickly mate with the queens. We report the identification, synthesis, and bioassay of the sex attractant pheromone of the queens as an approximately 1:6 ratio of (R)-3-ethyl-4-methylpentan-1-ol and methyl 6-methylsalicylate. The ants produce exclusively the (R)-enantiomer of the alcohol, and the (S)-enantiomer has no biological activity, neither inhibiting nor increasing attraction to blends of methyl 6-methylsalicylate with the (R)-enantiomer.
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