Ant Castes from Intercastes: Much Ado about Nothing

Cesare Baroni Urbani


A recent hypothesis on the origin of ant soldiers by Molet et al. (2012) is shown to be misleading since it is based on unfair, incomplete literature information and to be unscientific since it is not falsifiable.


unfair citation, ant castes, ant soldiers

Full Text:



André, E. (1885). Les fourmis. Hachette, Paris.

Baroni Urbani, C. (1998). The number of castes in ants, where major is smaller than minor and queens wear the shield of the soldiers. Ins. Soc., 45: 315-333.

Baroni Urbani, C. & L. Passera. (1996). Origin of ant soldiers. Nature, 383: 223. doi: 10.1038/383223a0.

Bolton, B. (1995). A new general catalogue of the ants of the world. Harvard University Press., Cambridge, Mass.

Bolton, B. (2003). Synopsis and classification of the Formicidae. Mem. Amer. Entom. Inst., 71: 370 pp.

Chapman, T. W., Kranz, B. D., Bejah, K.-L., Morris, D. C., Schwarz, M. P. & Crespi, B. J. (2002). The evolution of soldier reproduction in social thrips. Behav. Ecol., 13: 519-525.

Discover Life (2014). Cephalotes pallens. Cephalotes+pallens. Accessed October 22, 2014.

Emery, C. (1894). Die Entstehung und Ausbildung des Arbeiterstandes bei den Ameisen. Biol. Centralbl., 14: 53-59.

Encyclopedia of Life (2014). Formicidae. Accessed October 22, 2014.

Fernández, F. (2004). The American species of the Myrmicine ant genus Carebara Westwood (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Caldasia, 26: 191-238.

Heer, O. (1852). Ueber die Haus=Ameise Madeiras. Naturf. Ges. Zürich, 54: 1-24.

Korb, J. (2008). Termites, hemimetabolous diploid white ants? Frontiers in Zoology, 5: 9 pp. doi:10.1186/1742-9994-5-15.

Merti, A. L. & J. F. A. Traniello. (2009). Behavioral evolution in the major worker subcaste of twig-nesting Pheidole (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): does morphological specialization influence task plasticity? Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 63: 1411-1426. doi 10.1007/s00265-009-0797-3.

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

Popper, K. R. (1977). The logic of scientific discovery. Taylor and Francis, London & New York.

Shattuck, S. O. (1999). Australian ants. Their biology and identification. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victoria.

Shibao, H., Lee, J.-M., Kutsukake, M. & Fukatsu, T. (2003). Aphid soldier differentiation: density acts on both embryos and newborn nymphs. Naturwiss., 90: 501-504.

Tree of Life (2014). Cephalotini. Accessed October 22, 2014.

Ward, P. S. (1997). Ant soldiers are not modified queens. Nature, 385: 494-495. doi: 10.1038/385494b0.

Wikipedia [English version] (2014). Pheidole. Accessed October 22. 2014.

Wilson, E. O. (1954). A new interpretation of the frequency curves associated with ant polymorphism. Ins. Soc., 1: 75-80. doi: 10.1007/BF02223154.

Wilson, E. O. (1976). A social ethogram of the Neotropical arboreal ant Zacryptocerus varians (Fr. Smith). Anim. Behav., 24: 354-363.

Wilson, E. O. (1971). The insect societies. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Wilson, E. O. (2003). Pheidole in the New World. A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

JCR Impact Factor 2018: 0.604