The ant genus Cardiocondyla is characterized by a pronounced male diphenism with
wingless fighter males and winged disperser males. Winged males have been lost convergently in at
least two species-rich clades. Here, we describe the morphological variability of males of C. venustula
from uThukela valley, South Africa. Winged males appear to be absent from this species. However, in
addition to wingless (“ergatoid”) males with widely fused thoracic sutures and without ocelli,
“intermorphic” males exist that combine the typical morphology of wingless males with
characteristics of winged males, e.g., more pronounced thoracic sutures, rudimentary ocelli, and
vestigial wings. Similar “intermorphic” males have previously been described from one of several
genetically distinct lineages of the Southeast Asian “C. kagutsuchi” complex (Yamauchi et al., 2005).
To determine whether male morphology is associated with distinct clades also in C. venustula, we
sequenced a 631 bp fragment of mitochondrial DNA of workers from 13 colonies. We found six
haplotypes with a sequence variation of up to 5.7%. Intermorphic and wingless males did not appear
to be associated with a particular of these lineages and within colonies showed the same sequence.
Interestingly, two colonies contained workers with different haplotypes, suggesting the occasional
migration of queens and / or workers between colonies.