Tandem Running

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Tandem running is considered by many authors as the simplest recruitment behavior (Lenoir and Jaisson 1982, Agbogba 1984, Passera and Aron 2006). Jaffe (1984) distinguishes two main types of tandem running. The first one occurs when the scout attracts a nesmate using antennal contact and leads it in tandem to the food resource. The second type is the tandem running with odor signals, also called tandem calling, in which a scout uses chemical cues for either orienting itself back to the food source or to help attract nesmates. In both case, the two ants keep a physical contact with each other (Beckers et al. 1989).

Wilson (1959) has an account of this behavior in Cardiocondyla venustula and Schultheiss, Raderschall & Narendra (2015) discuss its significance in the Australian Camponotus consobrinus.

Photo Gallery

Videos of workers exhibiting tandem running

Camponotus consobrinus



Temnothorax, during colony emigration


Species known to use Tandem Running


  • Agbogba C. 1984. Observations sur le comportement de marche en tandem chez deux especes de fourmis ponerines : Mesoponera caffraria (Smith) et Hypoponera sp. (Hym : Formicidae). Insectes Sociaux 31(3) : 264-276.
  • Agbogba C. 1992. Settlement in the prey termite nest by the ponerine ant Pachycondyla caffraria (Smith), and Tandem Running Signal Analysis for the Following Ant. Journal of Ethology 10: 133-137.
  • Beckers R., S. Goss, J.L. Deneubourg and J.M. Pasteels. 1989. Colony size, communication and ant foraging strategy. Psyche 96: 239-256.
  • Fresneau, D. 1985. Individual foraging and path fidelity in a ponerine ant. Insectes Sociaux 32:109-116.
  • Glaser, S. M. and C. Gruter. 2018. Ants (Temnothorax nylanderi) adjust tandem running when food source distance exposes them to greater risks. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 72:8. doi:10.1007/s00265-018-2453-2
  • Gruter, C., M. Wust, A. P. Cipriano, and F. S. Nascimento. 2018. Tandem Recruitment and Foraging in the Ponerine Ant Pachycondyla harpax (Fabricius). Neotropical Entomology. 47:742-749. doi:10.1007/s13744-017-0571-6
  • Hölldobler B. and H. Engel. 1978. Tergal and sterna glands in ants. Psyche 85: 285-330.
  • Hölldobler, B., Moglich, M. and Maschwitz, U. 1974. Communication by Tandem Running in the Ant Camponotus sericeus. J. comp. Physiol. 90, 105-127.
  • Jaffe K. 1984. Negentropy and the evolution of chemical recruitment in ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of Theoretical Biology 106: 587-604.
  • Jessen K. and U. Maschwitz 1985. Individual specific trails in the ant Pachycondyla tesserinoda (Formicidae, Ponerinae). Naturwissenschaften 72: 549-550.
  • Jessen K. and U. Maschwitz 1986. Orientation and recruitment behavior in the ponerine ant Pachycondyla tesserinoda (Emery): laying of individual-specific trails during tandem running. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 19: 151-155.
  • Lenoir A. and P. Jaisson. 1982. Evolution et rôle des communications antennaires chez les insectes sociaux. In Social Insect in the Tropic Vol.1. Université Paris-Nord. Jaisson, P. (Ed.). Chapter 9, p 157-180.
  • Mackay, W. P., and E. E. Mackay 2010. The Systematics and Biology of the New World Ants of the Genus Pachycondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellon Press, Lewiston.
  • Möglich, M. 1978. Social organization of nest emigration in Leptothorax (Hym., Form.). Insectes Sociaux. 25:205-225.
  • Passera L. and S. Aron. 2006. Les fourmis: comportement, organisation sociale et évolution. CNRC-NRC press. Ottawa. 480pages.
  • Schultheiss P, Raderschall CA, Narendra A. 2015. Follower ants in a tandem pair are not always naïve. Scientific Reports 5: 10747.
  • Wilson, E. O. 1959. Communication by Tandem Running in the Ant Genus Cardiocondyla. Psyche. 66:29-34. DOI:10.1155/1959/29093