There are several forms of communication and perception used by Aphaenogaster cockerelli. One is stridulation. This is the emission of high frequency noise by rubbing together two body parts. A common example of stridulation is the chirping of crickets or grasshoppers. Stridulation in A. cockerelli, however, is a high enough frequency that it cannot be heard by humans. The acoustic signal may be transmitted through either a gaseous or solid medium. These signals are used to attract nestmates to help in food retrieval, foraging, and rescue. Buried ants near the nest stridulate, which induces nearby nest mates to dig them out (Markl and Holldöbler, 1978: 210).
Another method of communication is the use of chemicals to induce behaviors (specifically recruitment to a task) over both short and long distances. Aphaenogaster cockerelli have a poison gland in their abdomen that secretes a mixture of (R)-1-Phenylethanol (87.8%), (S)-4-methyl-3-heptanone (10.4%), and small amounts of other chemicals. This secretion is used to induce trail-following (long range) and attract foragers to a point source (short range). Trail following is used by an ant that wishes to recruit nest mates to a food source a long distance from the nest. It will create a trail from the food course to the nest, and then lead other any to the food source. The point source method (placing a single point of the secretion, as opposed to a trail) is used to attract nest mates to a food source close to the nest, and simply attracts ants from a given area around the source (up to 2 meters). (Holldöbler, Oldham, Morgan, and Konig, 1995: 739).
A third method of communication is the use of pheromones. One specific example of the use of pheromones is the inhibition by the queen of the laying of viable eggs by the workers. The medium for the distribution of these pheromones is not know, but it has been shown that the presence of the queen inhibits the production of viable eggs. It is known from other species, however, that inhibitory pheromones make up the signal that is used (Holldöbler and Carlin, 1989: 149).
This species, like many species of ant, uses hydrocarbons on the cuticle of other members of the species for identification. This information allows ants to differentiate between workers with different jobs, as well and larvae, queens, and males (Greene and Gordon, 2007: 897).