Cole, Arthur Charles Jr. (1908-1995)

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Arthur C. Cole, Jr. was a professor of entomology at the University of Tennessee. For 35 years he was a student of North American ants.

Attribution to ESA

Dr. Arthur Charles Cole, Jr. (deceased 21 February 1995), a professor in the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT), was elected as Fellow in 1943. He was highly regarded for his work on ant taxonomy and systematics. One colleague described him as “the epitome of a dedicated, unassuming, and charming role model for all graduate students.”

Dr. Cole was born in Michigan on 2 March 1908. He moved to Champaign, IL as a boy. He attended graduate school at The Ohio State University (OSU). He completed an M.S. in 1930 with his research on insects infesting Typha spp. plants. Three years later, he completed a Ph.D. at OSU focusing on ant ecology in the southern and northern desert shrub region of the U.S. As a graduate student, he elected to take additional courses in creative writing and English to enhance his writing skills. He began his professional academic career at UT in 1937, and remained there as a scholar and educator until his retirement in 1975.

Dr. Cole worked primarily on ants of the southwestern U.S., but he collected specimens from across the continent, including Idaho, Indiana, and Tennessee. He inventoried ants on the Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands in 1947 and at the Nevada atomic test site in 1962. He was a prolific entomologist; he described over 20 new species of ants and authored over 80 papers and one book. Of these publications, at least 69 were single-authored and dealt with ant ecology, systematics, and taxonomy. Dr. Cole supervised numerous graduate students during his tenure at UT.

Two of Dr. Cole’s graduate students, James Goodwin and Dewey Caron, remember him as dedicated, hardworking, and passionate about ants. Both recall that his favorite study organisms were ants of the genus Pogonomyrmex. Dr. Cole has the distinguished honor of supervising the first year of E.O. Wilson's doctoral program. In the book, Naturalist, Wilson recalls that he began work on a Ph.D. at UT “mainly because of the presence there of Arthur Cole.” Wilson served as Cole’s teaching assistant for the year he spent at UT.

Cole left UT for three years to serve as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force during WW II. His service earned him commendations and enabled him to travel to China, Burma, and India. Dr. Cole was a long-time member of the ESA, the International Union for the Study of Social Insects, the Society of Systematic Zoology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of Southeastern Biologists, and the Tennessee Academy of Science. His collections are housed in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, CA.


The Cole ant collection is at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.


  • Cole, A. C., Jr. 1932a. The relation of the ant, Pogonomyrmex occidentalis Cr., to its habitat. Ohio Journal of Science 32:133-146. [1932-03]
  • Cole, A. C., Jr. 1932b. Notes on the ant Pogonomyrmex californicus, Buckley (Hym.: Formicidae). Entomological News 43:113-115. [1932-05-12]
  • Cole, A. C., Jr. 1932c. Nests of the ant, Formica subpolita Mayr, in the western United States. Ohio Journal of Science 32:247-248. [1932-05]
  • Cole, A. C., Jr. 1933a. Ant communities of a section of the sagebrush semi-desert in Idaho, with special reference to the vegetation (Hymenop.: Formicidae). Entomological News 44:16-19. [1933-01-12]
  • Cole, A. C., Jr. 1933c. An ecological study of the ant fauna (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the southern and northern desert shrub regions of the United States. Abstracts of Doctors' Dissertations. Ohio State University 11:97-105.
  • Cole, A. C., Jr. 1934a. Studies of semidesert ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). [part]. Entomological News 45:96-101. [1934-04-10]
  • Cole, A. C., Jr. 1934b. An ecological study of the ants of the southern desert shrub region of the United States. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 27:388-405.
  • Cole, A. C., Jr. 1940b. A guide to the ants of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee. American Midland Naturalist 24:1-88.
  • Cole, A. C., Jr. 1949c. Notes on Gesomyrmex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Entomological News 60:181. [1949-10-24]
  • Cole, A. C., Jr. 1953d. Studies of New Mexico ants. III. The ponerines and dorylines (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 28:84-85.
  • Cole, A. C., Jr. 1968. Pogonomyrmex harvester ants. A study of the genus in North America. Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, x + 222 pp.