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Genus Camponotus - Carpenter Ants

Larger Serpentine Ant - Camponotus Red Ant - Camponotus castaneus Camponotus planatus - female Florida Carpenter Ant - Camponotus floridanus Ant with Wings - Camponotus camponotus modoc - Camponotus modoc Carpenter Ants? - Camponotus chromaiodes Ant silhouette - Camponotus nearcticus
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Formicoidea (Ants)
Family Formicidae (Ants)
Subfamily Formicinae
Tribe Camponotini
Genus Camponotus (Carpenter Ants)
Other Common Names
Commonly known as sugar ants in Australia, this perhaps is a better name for our soil-dwelling species.
Pronunciation
cam-poh-NOH-tus
Explanation of Names
Camponotus means "flat back", referring to the flattened or weakly curved dorsal mesosomal profile of most Northern Hemisphere species.
Numbers
Nearctica.com lists 51 spp.
Size
workers polymorphic, ranging from 4-7 mm in small species, 7-13+mm in large species
queens 9-20mm
males 5-13mm
Identification
Species are most easily identified from the major workers. Many are large ants; all have antennal bases separated from clypeal border by a space at least equal to the maximum diameter of the scape, mesosomal dorsal profile of most a continuous curve from pronotum through propodeum,except some subgenus Colobopsis and one of Myrmentoma. The former are easily recognized by the truncate and heavily punctate circumoral portion of the head of majors.
Range
Nearly World-wide, except the polar regions.
Habitat
Forested areas, fewer but also present in deserts, grasslands and boreal forest, some also in urban and suburban areas; may build galleries in wood, or inhabit within-wall spaces in buildings or economically important trees, and are considered pests. Alates of early-flying species are reared in late summer, then overwinter in the nest. This is one of the most species-rich ant genera, with perhaps 1000 species World-wide. Most subgenus Myrmentoma and all Colobopsis are strictly arboreal, while most Tanaemyrmex and some others nest in soil. The rest vary or occur somewhere in between.
Season
Active during the frost-free season in the north, all year during warm weather in southernmost USA. Species of colder regions enter a deep diapause in winter, characterized by a physiological state that permits them to supercool to temperatures well below freezing without themselves freezing. Mating flights of the majority of species occur late April-May, but subgenus Colobopsis and subtropical and desert species fly in summer, the latter often following monsoon rains.
Food
Omnivorous - eat honeydew, sap, living and dead insects, etc. Do not eat wood, only nest in it, and usually only after fungi have softened it.
Life Cycle
A eusocial insect with a complex life cycle. See Internet references
Remarks
Ant taxonomists generally consider the subgeneric classification of this group as a shambles, filled with unsubtantiated and arbitrary divisions. there are also questions about the monophyly of this huge group, and its separation from another large group, the Old World genus Polyrhachis. Fortunately, most of the North American species fit fairly easily into the subgenera represented here.
"Camponotus species are often called "carpenter ants" because many species nest in dry or moist rotten wood, and some may nest in wooden houses, sheds, etc. However, in the East, C. americanus and C. castaneus nest in soil, and in the West, numerous species (except most in the subgenera Camponotus and Myrmentoma) nest in soil." [from comment by James C. Trager here.]
Print References
Borror and White, p. 345 (1)
Milne, pp. 823-824, figs. 310, 318 (2)
Arnett, p. 586, fig. 25.45, 47, 48 (3)
Swann and Papp, p. 561, figs. 1215-1216 (4)
Arnett and Jacques, #281 (5)
Field Guide to Ants of New England (Ellison et al., 2012) The best resource for identification of eastern N.A. species.
Internet References
Ohio State University--fact sheet, very detailed life history
Univ. Nebraska: fact sheet
Field Guide to Ants of New England (Ellison et al., 2012) The best resource for identification of eastern N.A. species.
Works Cited
1.A Field Guide to Insects
Richard E. White, Donald J. Borror, Roger Tory Peterson. 1998. Houghton Mifflin Co.
2.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.
3.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
4.The Common Insects of North America
Lester A. Swan, Charles S. Papp. 1972. Harper & Row.
5.Simon & Schuster's Guide to Insects
Dr. Ross H. Arnett, Dr. Richard L. Jacques. 1981. Fireside.