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Genus Camponotus - Carpenter Ants

Ant and unknown mass - Camponotus castaneus Unknown Ant - Camponotus sansabeanus Formicidae - Camponotus decipiens - female Ant - Camponotus nearcticus Formicidae, New York Carpenter Ant, dorsal - Camponotus novaeboracensis Winged Ant? - Camponotus Camponotus festinatus? - Camponotus festinatus Camponotus sp. - Camponotus chromaiodes
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.
Explanation of Names
Camponotus Mayr 1861
"flat back", referring to the flattened or weakly curved dorsal mesosomal profile of most Northern Hemisphere species
>50 spp. in our area(1), >1000 described spp. total grouped in 45 subgenera
workers polymorphic, ranging from 4-7 mm in small species, 7-13+ mm in large species; queens 9-20 mm, males 5-13 mm
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.
worldwide, except polar regions
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.
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.
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.
Has a symbiotic relationship with Blochmannia, a proteobacteria, that assist in providing the insect with sufficient amino acids.(2)
Life Cycle
Overwinter as adults(3)
Fertilizes females establish nests under the bark of trees, logs, or stumps and seal themselves in. Here they rear their first broods of workers to maturity on salivary secretions. These workers are small because they are inadequately feed. Subsequent broods are fed by workers and individuals are larger.(3)
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.]
At least 50 volatile compounds are present in the Dufour's gland.(4)
Internet References
fact sheet (Jones 2017), detailed life history
Taxon page (AntWiki)
Works Cited
1.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
2.The Insects : Structure and Function
R. F. Chapman. 1998. Cambridge University Press.
3.Eastern Forest Insects
Whiteford L. Baker. 1972. U.S. Department of Agriculture · Forest Service.
4.Insect Behavior
Robert W. Matthews and Janice R. Matthews. 1988. Robert E. Krieger Publishing Co.