Camponotus americanus

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Camponotus americanus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Camponotini
Genus: Camponotus
Subgenus: Camponotus
Species complex: herculeanus
Species: C. americanus
Binomial name
Camponotus americanus
Mayr, 1862

Camponotus americanus casent0172605 profile 1.jpg

Camponotus americanus casent0172605 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


Photo Gallery

  • Foraging worker. Photo by Tom Murray.
  • Winged queen who recently left her parental nest. Photo by Tom Murray.
  • Dealate queen, recently mated, in search of a site to begin her own nest. Photo by Tom Murray.
  • Workers with early instar (young) larvae. Photo by Tom Murray.
  • Workers with fully grown larvae and pupae. Photo by Tom Murray.


The following information is derived from Mackay, New World Carpenter Ants (2019)

Compare with Camponotus castaneus, Camponotus herculeanus, Camponotus modoc, Camponotus novaeboracensis.

The majors, minors and females of C. americanus are relatively shiny and with a dark reddish-brown head and brown gaster and often a lighter brown mesosoma. The cheeks and malar area have a number of erect and suberect setae, pubescence is sparse and noticeable only on the dorsum and partially on the sides of the mesosoma and on the gaster. The clypeus is elevated longitudinally along the midline but does not form a carina. The head is coriaceous, or finely punctate, with the few scattered and insignificant, deeper punctures.

The male is a large, dark brown specimen that does not appear to have characteristics to separate it from other large male Camponotus.


Camponotus americanus can be separated from most other species in the subgenus Camponotus by the relatively long scapes and the relatively shiny surfaces. The long scapes will separate C. americanus from other species that are relatively smooth, such as Camponotus herculeanus (southern Canada and most of US) and even some of the species in the subgenus Tanaemyrmex. The shiny gaster would separate C. americanus from others that have a dull gaster with short pubescence, such as Camponotus modoc (southern Canada and most of US, northern Mexico).

Camponotus americanus can be separated from Camponotus novaeboracensis (southern Canada and most of US) as the punctures on the head are fine and insignificant and mesosoma is brown, instead of red.

It is difficult to separate C. americanus from Camponotus castaneus (SE Canada, eastern US), of which it was once considered to be a subspecies. The easiest character is the presence of numerous erect and suberect setae on the cheeks and malar area of the major, an area where erect setae are usually absent in majors of C. castaneus. Additionally, the scape of C. americanus is round at the base, whereas it is flattened and often widened in C. castaneus. It is usually necessary to have at least 1 major in a series to identify C. americanus. It is not unusual to find individual minors that lack erect setae on the malar area or have a couple of setae on one side and none on the other, making identification of series that contain only minors difficult or impossible. The two species are obviously similar and both must be placed in the same subgenus. As C. castaneus is clearly a member of Camponotus (based on the flattened clypeus, with only evidence of a raised area posteriorly), C. americanus must also be a member of the subgenus Camponotus.


The following information is derived from Mackay, New World Carpenter Ants (2019)

Camponotus americanus is found in habitats ranging from Quercus oak forests, dense live oak, oak evergreen forest, oak-hickory-dogwood forest, honey and black oak - white oak forest, sand pine oak scrub, turkey oak, Juniperus ashei forests, Cornus florida forests, shale barrens, wet flatwoods and hardwoods, long leaf pine forests, saw palmetto, saw grass marsh, and red maple forests, often in dense forest. Hill (2012) found it in forested areas adjacent to glades. It is also found in grasslands and shrublands (Barber, 2015) as well as deciduous and mixed forest (Mac-Gown and Brown, 2006).

Davis (2009) found it in numerous habitats including swamps/bottomland hardwood forests, recently cleared land, upland pine, pine woodland/longleaf pine savanna, upland deciduous forest, mesic deciduous forest, upland mixed forest, grassland and maritime forest.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 45.47° to 24.48472222°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.


Nest chamber; DL04664

A nest chamber was found under a small downed pitch pine trunk in an open pitch pine forest (southwestern Rhode Island 41°25′59″N 71°41′19″W / 41.43292°N 71.68864°W / 41.43292; -71.68864. The chamber contained brood and pupae, and off to one side was a hole leading down into their nest. The soil was sandy. The workers initially were frantic, with some running away and others running into the hole into their nest. After a few minutes a few workers were methodically coming out of the nest, picking up brood, and bringing what they could carry into the nest. (Lubertazzi July 4, 2018, DL04664).

The following information is derived from Mackay, New World Carpenter Ants (2019)

Camponotus americanus is one of the few species of the subgenus Camponotus that normally nests in the soil (Wheeler, 1917a), without a mound or under rocks (Buren, 1944), instead of in wood. Often there is simply a hole in the ground. It rarely nests in rotten logs and may be a house pest (Hansen and Klotz, 2005; Walker, 2013). Nests are located in red or brown clay soils, dark brown sand, to rocky soils, often in the shade, and can be collected under less than 5 cm of litter. In warm sites, C. americanus tends to occupy relatively cool chambers (Diamond et al., 2012).

Nests are small (Wheeler 1905a). One nest had three dealate females. Xenodusa cava (Coleoptera Staphylinidae) overwinters in the nest (Ellison et al., 2012).

Buren (1944) reported sexuals in nests in April and May so they evidently overwinter as adults. We found sexuals in nests in April (Texas). A flight occurred at 20:00-21:00, on 22-vi-2009, air temp 25.6°, after earlier rain (Georgia). Males were collected at blacklights in June, and in malaise traps.

Camponotus americanus appears to rely on a few, highly capable foragers (Pearce-Duvet et al., 2011), which can be found foraging diurnally (09:00 - 20:00) on the soil surface and in vegetation and are attracted to peanut butter baits. Foragers were also collected in pitfall traps. Ellison et al. (2012) report it as a nocturnal omnivore, which tend aphids (Williams et al., 2011), as well as the magnolia scale Neolecanium cornuparvum (Vanek and Potter, 2010). They prey on the red oak borer Enaphalodes rufulus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) (Muilenburg et al., 2008).

Camponotus americanus is infected by the fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis sensu lato (de Bakker et al., 2014). They are also the host of the endosymbiotic bacterium Candidatus Blochmannia (Degnan et al., 2004) as well as Wolbachia bacteria (Wernegreen et al., 2009).

Eisner and Wilson (1952) discuss the morphology of the proventriculus. Hölldobler and Engel-Siegel (1984) discuss the lack of the metapleural gland in this species.

Association with Other Organisms

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  • This species is a host for the fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).
  • This species is a host for the fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis (a pathogen) in North America (Shrestha et al., 2017).

Flight Period

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Life History Traits

  • Queen number: monogynous (Frumhoff & Ward, 1992)



The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • americanus. Camponotus americanus Mayr, 1862: 661 (w.q.) U.S.A. (Louisiana).
    • Type-material: 1 (?) syntype worker, 1 (?) syntype queen.
    • [Note: no indication of number of specimens is given.]
    • Type-locality: U.S.A.: New Orleans (no collector’s name).
    • Type-depository: NHMW.
    • Emery, 1893i: 674 (m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1968: 216 (l.).
    • Combination in C. (Camponotus): Emery, 1925b: 74.
    • Junior synonym of castaneus: Mayr, 1886d: 420; Cresson, 1887: 255; Dalla Torre, 1893: 223.
    • Subspecies of castaneus: Emery, 1893i: 674; Emery, 1895c: 336; Emery, 1896d: 372 (in list); Forel, 1904b: 381; Wheeler, W.M. 1905f: 402; Wheeler, W.M. 1906b: 22; Wheeler, W.M. 1910d: 323 (redescription); Wheeler, W.M. 1910g: 571; Wheeler, W.M. 1913c: 117; Wheeler, W.M. 1916m: 600; Wheeler, W.M. 1917i: 465; Emery, 1925b: 74; Smith, M.R. 1930a: 6; Wheeler, W.M. 1932a: 13; Dennis, 1938: 300; Wesson, L.G. & Wesson, R.G. 1940: 103; Buren, 1944a: 294; Smith, M.R. 1951a: 839.
    • Status as species: Roger, 1863b: 5; Mayr, 1863: 398; Creighton, 1950a: 365; Eisner & Wilson, 1952: 47; Smith, M.R. 1958c: 142; Carter, 1962a: 7 (in list); Smith, M.R. 1967: 366; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1425; DuBois & LaBerge, 1988: 145; Deyrup, et al. 1989: 100; Wheeler, G.C., et al. 1994: 305; Bolton, 1995b: 85; Coovert, 2005: 163; Hansen & Klotz, 2005: 81; MacGown & Forster, 2005: 65; MacGown, et al. 2007: 10; Ellison, et al. 2012: 117; Deyrup, 2017: 186; Mackay, 2019: 163 (redescription).
    • Senior synonym of rufinasis: Creighton, 1950a: 365; Smith, M.R. 1958c: 142; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1425; Bolton, 1995b: 85; Mackay, 2019: 163.
    • Distribution: Canada, U.S.A.
  • rufinasis. Camponotus (Camponotus) castaneus st. rufinasis Santschi, 1936b: 204 (s.w.) U.S.A. (Oklahoma).
    • Type-material: 5 syntype major and minor workers.
    • Type-locality: U.S.A.: Oklahoma, Poteau, (G.C. Wheeler).
    • Type-depository: NHMB.
    • Status as species: Santschi, 1937h: 380.
    • Subspecies of castaneus: Smith, M.R. 1951a: 839.
    • Junior synonym of americanus: Creighton, 1950a: 365; Smith, M.R. 1958c: 142; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1425; Bolton, 1995b: 121; Mackay, 2019: 163.

Type Material

Types not found by Mackay (2019).


The following information is derived from Mackay, New World Carpenter Ants (2019)

Major worker measurements (mm): HL 3.04 - 3.50, HW 2.70 - 3.54, SL 2.96 - 3.18, EL 0.66 - 0.71, CL 1.00 - 1.16, CW 1.15 - 1.30, WL 4.12 - 4.60, FFL 2.56 - 2.92, FFW 0.74 - 0.85. Indices: CI 89 - 101, SI 91 - 97, CLI 112 - 115, FFI 29.

Mandible with 5 teeth; anterior border of clypeus straight or slightly convex, depending on view; head somewhat heart-shaped, narrowed anteriorly, with strongly concave posterior margin; eyes fail to reach sides of head by about 1 minimum diameter; scape extends 1-2 funicular segments past posterior lateral corner of head; propodeum weakly angulate between 2 faces, dorsopropodeum longer than posteropropodeum; petiole narrow as seen in profile, with convex apex, as seen from front.

Erect and suberect setae abundant, specifically on clypeus, cheeks, malar area, frontal carinae, extending back to posterior margin, dorsum of mesosoma, petiole and all surface of gaster, absent on sides of head near eyes, on posterior lateral corners, on scapes (except apex) and tibiae, except for scattered bristles on flexor surfaces.

Head predominantly punctate, posteriorly coriaceous, with few scattered insignificant larger punctures, mesosoma coriaceous, gaster very finely, transversely striolate, sides of head shining, side of mesosoma glossy and shining, dorsal surface of gaster smooth and glossy.

Head usually dark reddish brown, mesosoma usually medium brown, legs usually light brown, gaster usually medium brown.

Minor worker measurements (mm): HL 1.82 - 2.96, HW 1.48 - 2.52, SL 1.92 - 2.88, EL 0.48 - 0.61, CL 0.53 - 0.86, CW 0.78 - 1.08, WL 2.48 - 3.80, FFL 1.58 - 2.44, FFW 0.46 - 0.73. Indices: CI 81 - 85, SI 97 - 105, CLI 125 - 148, FFI 29 - 30.

Minor worker similar to major worker, except head more elongate, eyes nearly reach sides of head, scapes extend up to ½ length past posterior lateral corner of head, pilosity, sculpture and color as in major worker.

Female measurements (mm): HL 3.32 - 3.50, HW 3.26 - 3.68, SL 2.88 - 3.00, EL 0.81 - 0.86, CL 1.03 - 1.14, CW 1.21 - 1.35, WL 5.30 - 5.66, FFL 2.84 - 2.98, FFW 0.74 - 0.88. Indices: CI 98 - 105, SI 84 - 87, CLI 116 - 119, FFI 26 - 29.

Female similar to major worker; head somewhat heart-shaped, posterior margin weakly concave; eyes fail to reach sides of head by about ¼ - ½ minimum diameter; scape extends 1-2 funicular segments past posterior lateral corner of head; pilosity, sculpture and color is in major worker.

Male measurements (mm): HL 1.62 - 1.92, HW 1.44 - 1.68, SL 2.16 - 2.38, EL 0.58 - 0.66, CL 0.48 - 0.55, CW 0.73 - 0.79, WL 3.64 - 4.44, FFL 2.56 - 2.86, FFW 0.48 - 0.54. Indices: CI 88 - 89, SI 124 - 133, CLI 143 - 153, FFI 19.

Males moderately large, setae scattered over entire surface of clypeus, scape extends ½ length past posterior lateral corner of head, cheeks with erect and suberect setae, head dark brown, mesosoma, legs and gaster medium to dark brown.

Worker Morphology

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 • Caste: polymorphic


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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