Polyrhachis lamellidens is a temporary social parasitic species. When a newly mated queen encounters a host worker, it opens its jaws and then mounts and rubs the body of the host worker, called rubbing behaviour. This behaviour is different from aggressive behaviour and is considered to be a preparatory action before invasion of the host colony. However, it is unclear what cues trigger rubbing behaviour. Therefore, in this study, we used glass beads that imitated the insect body surfaces and searched for triggers. Although P. lamellidens did not respond to the cuticular compounds only, cuticular compounds and chitin coatings on glass beads elicited responses that were similar to those towards live samples. The rubbing behaviour of P. lamellidens was elicited in response to a cuticle-like surface that mimicked a procuticle by combining the compounds with chitin. These results suggest that host recognition and nest-mate recognition are supported by different mechanisms.
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