Abstract. 1. The term serial monodomy is used to describe a life-history phenomenon in social insects. Serially monodomous colonies maintain multiple nests for their exclusive use, but only occupy one nest at a time.
2. The hypothesis that colony odours mediate nest relocation decisions was tested in the serially monodomous species Aphaenogaster araneoides from Central America. Odour extracts of colony members were created using a non-polar solvent.
3. Colonies strongly avoided reoccupying nests treated with colony odour extracts, while control colonies often returned to nests subjected to solvent-only control. Behavioural observations indicated that A. araneoides colonies are capable of detecting army ant (Eciton burchellii) raids up to 1.4 m from the raiding front, with several seconds to evacuate nests.
4. It is proposed that the function of serial monodomy in A. araneoides is the reduction of nest odour to enhance detection of predaceous army ants. Serial monodomy may be a widespread but undocumented mode of nesting where army ants occur in tropical and subtropical climates.