Ergatandromorphism in the Ant Myrmica lobulicornis Nylander, 1857 (Formicidae: Myrmicinae)

Enrico Schifani, Cristina Castracani, Fiorenza Augusta Spotti, Daniele Giannetti, Martina Ghizzoni, Mauro Gobbi, Luca Pedrotti, Donato Antonio Grasso


Ergatandromorphism is the result of an aberrant development in which part of the body of a social insect shows the traits of the worker caste, while the other resembles a male. It is considered a specific case of gynandromorphism. Specimens with these characteristics have rarely been collected in different ant lineages across the world. Here, we provide the first description of ergatandromorphism in the ant Myrmica lobulicornis Nylander, 1857: an ergatandromorphous specimen was recovered during an arthropod sampling campaign across altitudinal and ecological gradients on the Italian Alps (Stelvio National Park), together with 480 workers and 4 queens of the same species, which expressed the normal phenotype.


bilateral mosaic; gynandromorph; developmental defects; Italian Alps; Stelvio National Park

Full Text:



Berndt, K.P. & Kremer, G. (1982). Heat shock-induced gynandromorphism in the pharaoh's ant, Monomorium pharaonis (L.). Experientia, 38: 798-799. doi: 10.1007/BF01972277.

Berndt, K.P. & Kremer, G. (1983). New categories in the gynandromorphism of ants. Insectes Sociaux, 30: 461-465. doi: 10.1007/BF02223977.

Castracani, C., Grasso, D.A., Fanfani, A. & Mori, A. (2010). The ant fauna of Castelporziano Presidential Reserve (Rome, Italy) as a model for the analysis of ant community structure in relation to environmental variation in Mediterranean ecosystems. Journal of Insect Conservation, 14: 585-594. doi: 10.1007/s10841-010-9285-3.

Cokendolpher, J.C. & Francke, O.F. (1983). Gynandromorphic desert fire ant, Solenopsis aurea Wheeler (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of the New York Entomological Society, 242-245.

Creighton, W.S. (1928). Notes on three abnormal ants. Psyche: A Journal of Entomology, 35: 51-55.

Crosland, M.W.J., Crozier, R.H., & Jefferson, E. (1988). Aspects of the biology of the primitive ant genus Myrmecia F. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Australian Journal of Entomology, 27: 305-309.

de Campos, A.E.C., Kato, L.M. & Zarzuela, M.F. (2011). Occurrence of different gynandromorphs and ergatandromorphs in laboratory colonies of the urban ant, Monomorium floricola. Journal of Insect Science, 11: 17. doi: 10.1673/031.011.0117.

Donisthorpe, H. (1929). Gynandromorphism in ants. Zoologischer Anzeiger, 82: 92-96.

Donisthorpe, H. (1938). An ergatandromorph of Myrmica laevinodis Nyl., and the list of gynandromorphs, etc., brought up to date (Hym., Formicidae). The Entomologist, 71: 251-252.

Donisthorpe, H. (1939). XXX.—The Genus Lioponera Mayr (Formicidse, Cerapachyinæ), with Descriptions of Two new Species and an Ergatandromorph. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 3: 252-257. doi: 10.1080/03745481.1939.9723600

Donisthorpe H. (1946). Fifty gynandromorphous ants taken in a single colony of Myrmica sabuleti Meinert. Ireland Entomol (London), 79: 121–131.

Gibb, H., Dunn, R.R., Sanders, N.J., Grossman, B.F., Photakis, M., Abril, S., Agosti, D., Andersen, A.N., Angulo, E., Armbrecht, I., Arnan, X., Baccaro, F.B., Bishop, T.R., Boulay, R., Brühl, C., Castracani, C., Cerda, X., Del Toro, I., Delsinne, I., Diaz, M., Donoso, D.A., Ellison, A.M., Enriquez, M.L., Fayle, T.M., Feener, D.H., Jr., Fisher, B.L., Fisher, R.N., Fitzpatrick, M.C., Gómez, C., Gotelli, N.J., Gove, A., Grasso, D.A., Groc, S., Guenard, B., Gunawardene, N., Heterick, B., Hoffmann, B., Janda, M., Jenkis, C., Kaspari, M., Klimes, P., Lach, L., Laeger, T., Lattke, J., Leponce, M., Lessard, J.-P., Longino, J., Lucky, A., Luke, S.H., Majer, J., McGlynn, T.P., Menke, S., Mezger, D., Mori, A., Moses, J., Munyai, T.C., Pacheco, R., Paknia, O., Pearce-Duvet, J., Pfeiffer, M., Philpott, S.M., Resasco, J., Retana, J., Silva, R.R., Sorger, M.D., Souza, J., Suarez, A., Tista, M., Vasconcelos, H.L., Vonshak, M., Weiser, M.D., Yates, M. & Parr, C.L. (2017). A global database of ant species abundances. Ecology, 98: 883-884. doi: 10.1002/ecy.1682.

Glaser, F., Michael, J. & Seifert, B. (2011). Rediscovered after 140 years at two localities: Myrmica myrmicoxena Forel, 1895 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News, 14: 107-111.

Guillem, R.M., Drijfhout, F.P. & Martin, S.J. (2016). Species-specific cuticular hydrocarbon stability within European Myrmica ants. Journal of chemical ecology, 42: 1052-1062. doi: 10.1007/s10886-016-0784-x.

Heinze, J. & Trenkle, S. (1997). Male polymorphism and gynandromorphs in the ant Cardiocondyla emeryi. Naturwissenschaften, 84: 129-131.

Jansen, G., Savolainen, R. & Vepsäläinen, K. (2010). Phylogeny, divergence-time estimation, biogeography and social parasite–host relationships of the Holarctic ant genus Myrmica (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 56: 294-304. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2010.01.029.

Kinomura, K. & Yamauchi, K. (1994). Frequent occurrence of gynandromorphs in the natural population of the ant Vollenhovia emeryi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insectes Sociaux, 41: 273-278. doi: 10.1007/BF01242298.

Kremer, G. & Berndt, K.P. (1986). Zur Morphologie normaler und gynandromorpher Pharaoameisen Monomorium pharaonis (L.). Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift, 33: 177-221. doi: 10.1002/mmnd.4800330309.

Latella L., Pedrotti, L. & Gobbi M. (2019). Records of Cholevinae (Coleoptera: Leiodidae) sampled by pitfall traps in the Central Italian Alps. Journal of Insect Biodiversity, 13: 36-42. doi: 10.12976/jib/2019.13.2.3.

Meinert, F. (1861). Bidrag til de danske Myrers Naturhistorie. Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter, 5: 273-340.

Molet, M., Wheeler, D.E. & Peeters, C. (2012). Evolution of novel mosaic castes in ants: modularity, phenotypic plasticity, and colonial buffering. The American Naturalist, 180: 328-341.

Narita, S., Pereira, R.A.S, Kageyama, D. & Kjellberg, F. (2010). Gynandromorphs and intersexes: potential to understand the mechanism of sex determination in arthropods. Terrestrial Arthropod Reviews, 3: 63-96.

Parapura, E. (1972). An ergatandromorph Formica exsecta Nyl. (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) from Poland. Bulletin de l’Academie Polonaise des Sciences. Série des Sciences Biologiques, 20: 763-767.

Peeters, C.P. (1991). Ergatoid queens and intercastes in ants: two distinct adult forms which look morphologically intermediate between workers and winged queens. Insectes Sociaux, 38: 1-15. doi: 10.1007/BF01242708.

Radchenko, A. & Elmes, G. W. (2010). Myrmica ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the old world. Fauna Mundi, 3: 89-93.

Schifani, E. & Alicata, A. (2018). Exploring the myrmecofauna of Sicily: thirty-two new ant species recorded, including six new to Italy and many new aliens (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Polish Journal of Entomology, 87: 323-348. doi: 10.2478/pjen-2018-0023.

Seifert, B. (2005). Rank elevation in two European ant species: Myrmica lobulicornis Nylander, 1857, stat. n. and Myrmica spinosior Santschi, 1931, stat. n. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecologische Nachrichten, 7: 1-7.

Seifert, B. (2018). The ants of Central and North Europe. Lutra Verlags- und Vertriebsgesellschaft: Tauer, Germany, 408 p

Spotti, F. A., Castracani, C., Grasso, D. A., Fanfani, A., & Mori, A. (2010). The community structure temporal development of Castelporziano ant fauna. Redia, 93: 89-93.

Spotti, F. A., Castracani, C., Grasso, D. A., & Mori, A. (2015). Daily activity patterns and food preferences in an alpine ant community. Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 27: 306-324. doi: 10.1080/03949370.2014.947634.

Sielezniew, M., Patricelli, D., Dziekanska, I., Barbero, F., Bonelli, S., Casacci, L.P., Witek, M. & Balletto, E. (2010). The first record of Myrmica lonae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) as a host of the socially parasitic large blue butterfly Phengaris (Maculinea) arion (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Sociobiology, 56: 465-475.

Silva, T.S.R. & Feitosa, R.M. (2019). On titles and royalty: a terminological discussion over castes in myrmecology. Insectes sociaux, 66: 25-35. doi: 10.1007/s00040-018-0672-1.

Skvarla, M.J. & Dowling, A.P. (2014). First report of gynandromorphism in Temnothorax curvispinosus (Mayr, 1866)(Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 116: 349-353. doi: 10.4289/0013-8797.116.3.349.

Torossian, C. (1974). Biologie et éthologie d'un ergatandromorphe de Dolichoderus quadripunctatus (L.) (Hym. Formicoidea Dolichoderidae). Insectes Sociaux, 21: 145-150. doi: 10.1007/BF02222938.

Wheeler, W.M. (1914). Gynandromorphous ants described during the decade 1903-1913. The American Naturalist, 48: 49-56.

Wheeler, W.M. (1937). Mosaics and other anomalies among ants. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Yang, A.S. & Abouheif, E. (2011). Gynandromorphs as indicators of modularity and evolvability in ants. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution, 316: 313-318. doi: 10.1002/jez.b.21407.

Yoshizawa, J., Mimori, K., Yamauchi, K., & Tsuchida, K. (2009). Sex mosaics in a male dimorphic ant Cardiocondyla kagutsuchi. Naturwissenschaften, 96: 49-55. doi: 10.1007/s00114-008-0447-z.

Yosuke, T. (2008). A Bilateral Gynandromorph in the Pirate Ant Polyergus samurai. Ari, 31: 63-67.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

JCR Impact Factor 2018: 0.504