The Role Of Soldier Ants

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The role of Soldier Ants

Soldier ants are three adult ants of the same species and the same anthill. One of them the largest, the other two simple workers will be considered the soldier ant. This is something that obsessed Charles Darwin, how is it possible for a single colony to be able to generate such radically different bugs. A new study suggests that a seemingly useless organ, which appears briefly during the development of soldier ants, could explain why some ants are small workers and others are huge soldiers.

How are soldier ants arise?

Scientists have found an answer to the question that Charles Darwin left perplexed, to which he considered a special difficulty with his theory of evolution. He wondered if natural choice works at the individual level, fighting for survival and reproduction. Apparently the same ants colony generates soldiers and regulates the balance between soldiers and workers. Thus the same colony produces workers of smaller and one larger size that is the so -called soldier. From the minor workers with their heads and small bodies, to the large soldiers with huge heads and jaws.

Ehab Abouheif of McGill University said in a statement that it was a completely unexpected finding. People had noticed that this was possible because during the development of the soldiers, an organ a rudimentary wing disk, apparently unimportant appears only briefly during the final stages of the Larvical Development and then disappears. This process will happen only in some ants, which will become soldiers. But they assumed that it was just a side effect of hormones and nutrition that were responsible for turning the larvae into soldiers.

Rajendhran Rajakumar, the first author of the study added: “What we discovered was that these rudimentary organs are not a side effect of hormones and nutrition, but are responsible for generating soldiers. It is its passing presence that regulates the head and body of the soldiers to grow at a fast pace until you get these heads heads with huge jaws and large bodies."

The researchers also discovered that the ants colony maintains the balance between soldiers and minor workers (a proportion of 90-95 percent workers 5-10 percent of soldiers) by regulating the growth of the rudimentary organ in the larvae in the larvae. They discovered that ants maintain this proportion by stopping the growth of the rudimentary organ with an inhibitory pheromone when there are too many soldiers.

However, according to researchers, the colony can increase the number of ants soldier very quickly if it is under threat or if the number of soldiers has decreased for some reason, because rudimentary wings discs appear only in the final stages of the larval development.

The biologists of the McGill University obtained some data on the soldiers and their coexistence within the anthill with the other ants and as well as the characteristics that identify each one.

The males and the queen are the only ants with wings. The wings grow, during the larval stage, from imaginal wings. All Pheidole workers are females and sterile. In the colonies of the Pheidole genus, the workers’ castes are made up of largest large and large body ants, known as soldiers, and minor workers with a small body and small head.

Soldier ants are larger and have disproportionately bigger heads than workers. The workers perform most of the tasks in the colony. They go to look for food and breastfeed the young. With great jaws and heads full of muscles, the Cabezones soldiers act mainly in defense of the colony. They can also use their jaws to break seeds and help process food and assume the role of minor workers if necessary. In a nutshell: scientists have discovered the biological reason why soldier ants grow more than workers’ ants.   

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