Page:Origin of Species 1859 facsimile.djvu/251

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Chap. VII.
239
NEUTER INSECTS.

cocystus the workers of one caste never leave the nest; they are fed by the workers of another caste, and they have an enormously developed abdomen which secretes a sort of honey, supplying the place of that excreted by the aphides, or the domestic cattle as they may be called, which our European ants guard or imprison.

It will indeed be thought that I have an overweening confidence in the principle of natural selection, when I do not admit that such wonderful and well-established facts at once annihilate my theory. In the simpler case of neuter insects all of one caste or of the same kind, which have been rendered by natural selection, as I believe to be quite possible, different from the fertile males and females,—in this case, we may safely conclude from the analogy of ordinary variations, that each successive, slight, profitable modification did not probably at first appear in all the individual neuters in the same nest, but in a few alone; and that by the long-continued selection of the fertile parents which produced most neuters with the profitable modification, all the neuters ultimately came to have the desired character. On this view we ought occasionally to find neuter-insects of the same species, in the same nest, presenting gradations of structure; and this we do find, even often, considering how few neuter-insects out of Europe have been carefully examined. Mr. F. Smith has shown how surprisingly the neuters of several British ants differ from each other in size and sometimes in colour; and that the extreme forms can sometimes be perfectly linked together by individuals taken out of the same nest: I have myself compared perfect gradations of this kind. It often happens that the larger or the smaller sized workers are the most numerous; or that both large and small are numerous, with those of an intermediate size scanty in numbers. Formica flava has larger and