I recently captured fpur young queens and about 4 or 5 workers of Crematogaster lineolata, as well as two queen pupae. They were captured on Monday.
Today, I noticed the workers seemed more active than they have been since first capture.
Two of the workers were hauling around the darker of the queen pupae. I thought this meant they were helping her to eclose. No such luck, they decided to dismember her. It was odd to see one of the workers running around later with the pupal gaster, which had been clearly munched on, and I could see the eggs in the gaster. My conclusion was that they dismembered her to feed the eggs to the now egg-laying queens.
Incidentally, the three surviving queens (yes, 3, one of the original 4 died today even before they got to work on the pupal queen) appear to have begun egg-laying in the same chamber.
The oddest part of the whole episode is that they had food available in the form of a freshly killed deerfly, and I saw one of the workers take a piece of the deerfly earlier.
I'm woindering if the cannibalism episode was triggered by new queen pheromones from the newly laying queens. It seems odd that they would wait four days to rip apart the pupal queen.
If anyone has had similar experience with Crematogaster, I love to hear it. Thanks.