National Geographic : 1912 Aug
Photo by C. G . Hartman NEST CHAMBER OF A SMALL TEXAN FUNGUS-GROWING ANT (Mycetosoritis hartmani) The middle chamber of the preceding figure one-fourth larger than natural size, showing in the upper right-hand corner some of the rootlets to which the garden is suspended their brood, or to excavate the nest, and are therefore compelled to keep kidnap ping the young of the host species in order to secure the performance of these tasks. The other method is by com pletely suppressing the worker caste in the parasitic species, so that the queen after her adoption in the nest of the alien species can at once produce males and females within the host colony's lifetime, which is very short because the host queen has been eliminated. These various methods of colony for mation show that among ants the ex treme adaptations of parasitism have for their sole object the securing of better opportunities of reproduction. The restriction of reproduction to a few members of the colony brought with it, among other advantages, the usurpa tion of the nutritive and protective func tions by a special caste, the workers, which, moreover, comprised the majority of the personnel of the colony. Later these functions were delegated to two subdivisions of this caste, the workers proper and the soldiers. Among the special adaptations for the protection of the colony we may cite the development of the sting and of the vari ous poisonous or malodorous secretions with which the workers spray or smear the bodies of their enemies, the enlarged mandibles of the soldiers, and above all the excavation or construction of the nest, which protects the colony both from its enemies and from excessive drought, cold, and heat.