Camponotus detritus

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Camponotus detritus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Camponotini
Genus: Camponotus
Species: C. detritus
Binomial name
Camponotus detritus
Emery, 1886

Camponotus detritus casent0905419 p 1 high.jpg

Camponotus detritus casent0905419 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

Identification

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Namibia, South Africa (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

C. detritus is an ecologically dominant ant in the central Namib Desert, where it is confined to the sand dunes south of the Kuiseb River and the dry river-bed (Curtis, 1985a). Colonies comprise from one to four nests that are excavated among the roots of the perennial dune vegetation (Curtis, 1985b). Nests consist of a series of tunnels and chambers extending to a maximum depth of about 0,4 m, often lined with detritus. The simple nest construction, using the roots of grasses to provide structure, enables ants to exploit the unstable substrate of the sand dunes. New nests can be excavated with relative ease, either when old nests become too small or when environmental factors such as the encroachment of a dune or strong winds destroy the nest (Curtis, 1985b). Should one nest be destroyed suddenly, such polydomous colonies survive since workers can rapidly transport surviving brood and other colony members to other existing nests. C. detritus colonies generally only have one queen in one of the nests and brood is transported by the workers to other nests.

One factor contributing to the success of C. detritus appears to be its ability to reproduce all year round as a result of fairly high temperatures throughout the year, combined with a constant food supply. Brood is present throughout the year (Curtis, 1985a). Winged queens were present in the nests throughout most of the year with a maximum in December (summer) (Curtis, 1985a). Since only one nuptial flight was actually witnessed, it could not be established exactly what factors trigger the flight. Rainfall is presumably important, since that flight occurred after 3 mm of rain.

General view of the desert habitat of C. detritus, with a foraging party in the foreground. Ants nest in mounds with perennial vegetation . From Gobabeb, Namibia. Photo by Christian Peeters.
Workers of C. detritus collecting honeydew from scale insects on Stipagrostis grass. From Gobabeb, Namibia. Photo by Christian Peeters.
Honeydew is obtained from scales sheltering in the stipes of perennial grasses. From Gobabeb, Namibia. Photo by Christian Peeters.
Workers of C. detritus outside the entrance of their underground nest. From Gobabeb, Namibia. Photo by Christian Peeters.

Castes

The workers are polymorphic with a continuous, non isometric size distribution from 7-16 mm. This polymorphism results in a certain amount of task specialization, but behavioural flexibility is retained. For example, although the majority of foraging is performed by minor workers, majors assist in retrieving food items too large for the minors (Curtis, 1985a).


Dealate queen (left) and worker, showing the weak dimorphism in body size. From Gobabeb, Namib desert. Photo by Christian Peeters.

Nomenclature

The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • detritus. Camponotus detritus Emery, 1886: 357 (w.) SOUTH AFRICA. Forel, 1910f: 26 (s.). Combination in C. (Myrmepomis): Forel, 1914a: 273; in C. (Myrmopiromis): Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 986. Subspecies of fulvopilosus: Forel, 1910f: 26; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 986; Stitz, 1923: 166; Arnold, 1924: 739. Revived status as species: Forel, 1914a: 273; Emery, 1920b: 258; Emery, 1925b: 128; Robertson, 1990: 327. See also: Robertson & Zachariades, 1997: 5.

Description

References

  • Arnold, G. 1924. A monograph of the Formicidae of South Africa. Part VI. Camponotinae. Ann. S. Afr. Mus. 14: 675-766 (page 739, subspecies of fulvopilosus)
  • Bolton, B. 1995b. A new general catalogue of the ants of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 504 pp. (page 96, catalogue)
  • Curtis, B. A, 1985a. Nests of the Namib desert dune ant, Camponotus detritus. Insectes Sociaux 32: 313-320.
  • Curtis, B. A., 1985b. The dietary spectrum of the Namib Desert ant, Camponotus detritus. Insectes Sociaux 32: 78-85.
  • Emery, C. 1886b. Alcune formiche africane. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 18: 355-366 (page 357, worker described)
  • Emery, C. 1920b. Le genre Camponotus Mayr. Nouvel essai de la subdivision en sous-genres. Rev. Zool. Afr. (Bruss.) 8: 229-260 (page 258, revived status as species)
  • Emery, C. 1925d. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Formicinae. Genera Insectorum 183: 1-302 (page 128, revived status as species)
  • Forel, A. 1910e. Zoologische und anthropologische Ergebnisse einer Forschungsreise im westlichen und zentralen Südafrika ausgeführt in den Jahren 1903-1905 von Dr. Leonhard Schultze. Vierter Band. Systematik und Tiergeographie. D) Formicidae. Denkschr. M (page 26, soldier described)
  • Forel, A. 1910e. Zoologische und anthropologische Ergebnisse einer Forschungsreise im westlichen und zentralen Südafrika ausgeführt in den Jahren 1903-1905 von Dr. Leonhard Schultze. Vierter Band. Systematik und Tiergeographie. D) Formicidae. Denkschr. M (page 26, subspecies of fulvopilosus)
  • Forel, A. 1914a. Le genre Camponotus Mayr et les genres voisins. Rev. Suisse Zool. 22: 257-276 (page 273, combination in C. (Myrmepomis)))
  • Forel, A. 1914a. Le genre Camponotus Mayr et les genres voisins. Rev. Suisse Zool. 22: 257-276 (page 273, revived status as species)
  • Robertson, H. G. 1990. Unravelling the Camponotus fulvopilosus species complex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pp. 327-328 in: Veeresh, G. K., Mallik, B., Viraktamath, C. A. (eds.) Social insects and the environment. Proceedings of the 11th International Con (page 327, revived status as species)
  • Stitz, H. 1923. Hymenoptera, VII. Formicidae. Beitr. Kennt. Land- Süsswasserfauna Dtsch.-Südwestafr. 2: 143-167 (page 166, subspecies of fulvopilosus)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922j. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VIII. A synonymic list of the ants of the Ethiopian region. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 711-1004 (page 986, combination in C. (Myrmopiromis))
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922j. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VIII. A synonymic list of the ants of the Ethiopian region. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 711-1004 (page 986, subspecies of fulvopilosus)