Myrmica microrubra

The story of a queen ant, slightly different from the other queens.


Picture yourself in a nice alpine meadow.

And I really do mean in the meadow, about 5 centimeters underground, in a red ant nest. You are an ant queen! Don’t get cocky though, there are several queens in your nest. You are just one of them, part of the egg layer caste. You ARE slightly different still. You are slightly smaller than the others. And your plan is to only lay eggs that will turn into other queens. Contributing to the worker force of the colony is clearly not for you! You only want good queens daughters, and sons, who will directly help spreading your genes.

What a selfish small ant you are! Relying on the workforce of your comrades. You would not survive without them, that is for sure. And yet, the strategy works, as you are still here. And so are your sisters!


Steiner, F.M. et al. (2006) ‘No sympatric speciation here: multiple data sources show that the ant Myrmica microrubra is not a separate species but an alternate reproductive morph of Myrmica rubra’, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 19(3), pp. 777–787. Available at: