Queens are usually the functional reproductives in Pachycondyla obscuricornis, but none were found in one colony collected near Brasilia. In this colony, three adults differed morphologically from workers; although wingless, their thorax was more or less like that of winged queens (scutum and scutellum distinct; metanotum larger than that of workers). Another 11 such individuals were found by opening cocoons. We consider that these are intercastes (sensu Peeters, 1991). Two adult intercastes were mated and laid eggs. In contrast, all the workers were virgin, but some laid distinct trophic eggs which were fed to the two reproductives. Following experimental removal of the intercastes, dominance interactions began among the workers, and reproductive eggs were than laid. Intercastes with a reproductive function have not been reported previously in the Ponerinae. They are distinct from ergatoid queens (permanently wingless reproductive caste) or gamergates (mated egglaying workers).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science