skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Frederick Smith   14 March 1878

British Museum

14th. March 1878

My dear Sir

I am greatly obliged by your sending to me specimens of the “harvesting Ant”..1 The facts as presented to us are very curious and new to me—and if there really exist in colonies no intermediate form of mandibles? each race will probably have its special functions— I have communicated with Mrs. Treat and trust you will not think me intrusive in so doing. I shall bring the subject to the notice of the Ent. Society at its next meeting—2

believe me | yours sincerely | Fredk. Smith

Chas. Darwin Esq. F.R.S. | &c.


At the 3 April 1878 meeting of the Entomological Society of London, Smith exhibited specimens of harvesting ant that had been sent to CD from Florida by Mary Treat. One phial contained specimens ‘gradating from large soldiers to small workers, all having acutely dentate mandibles’; in a second phial, the ants’ mandibles had ‘rounded teeth’, while in a third phial, the teeth ‘were obsolete’ (see Transactions of the Entomological Society of London (1878): xii). See also Treat 1879, pp. 74 and 88, where Treat describes three types of neuter ants (major and minor workers and soldiers) each with differently shaped mandibles. The ant was later identified as Pogonomyrmex crudelis (a synonym of P. badius, the Florida harvester ant; see Treat 1879, p. 76).


Treat, Mary. 1879. Chapters on ants. New York: Harper & Brothers.


Thanks CD for specimens of, and curious facts on, the "harvesting ant".

Letter details

Letter no.
Frederick Smith
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
British Museum
Source of text
DAR 177: 198
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11422,” accessed on 19 September 2021,