Camponotus femoratus

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Camponotus femoratus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Camponotini
Genus: Camponotus
Species: C. femoratus
Binomial name
Camponotus femoratus
(Fabricius, 1804)

Camponotus femoratus casent0249351 p 1 high.jpg

Camponotus femoratus casent0249351 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

This species and its New World congener Camponotus irritabilis have a reputation as some of the world's most aggressive ant species. Their mandibles can readily break the skin of an unwary or unlucky myrmecologist, and the ants add to this discomfort by spraying the cut with formic acid. An individual worker defending itself like this is mildly annoying . . . the en mass attacks this species deliver are very uncomfortable. Camponotus femoratus and Crematogaster levior live together in ant gardens. Dejean et al. (2018) found this territorially-dominant arboreal-ant species association inhabited 1/5 of the tree canopies they sampled in an Amazonian forest.

At a Glance • Ant garden  




Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 5.266667° to -64.36°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Brazil (type locality), Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps

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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.


Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.



Leal et al. (2017) - Crematogaster levior and Camponotus femoratus are common in Amazonian ant gardens and often occur nesting together. It is known that the latter aggressively defends its nesting location, i.e., the ant garden, while the former does not. Crematogaster levior are able to forage both on the forest understory and on the forest ground, over larger distances from the nest and under more extreme weather conditions (such as at forest edges) in comparison with C. femoratus (Vantaux et al., 2007). Camponotus femoratus forages exclusively in the forest understory for brief periods during the day.

In this study twenty six rainforest ant gardens in forest edge habitat and forest interior locations were examined. Fifteen epiphyte species were found to be incorporated in the ant gardens overall, with from one to five species per nest. The major ant garden difference was a higher incidence of epiphytes with glands, i.e., oil producing or nectar bearing species, in the forest interior. Camponotus femoratus was found to react to chemical compounds indicative of herbivore damage while Crematogaster levior did not. This is consistent with the former providing herbivore protection to the epiphytes it lives with while the latter does not. Along with the differences in foraging potentially limiting the extent of interspecific competition between the two ant species for resources provided by their shared ant garden, Camponotus individuals can get food from Crematogaster workers through trophallaxis (Menzel et al., 2014). Therefore, C. femoratus may co-occur with C. levior due to the additional resource input provided by the latter.

Vicente and Izzo (2017) - Ant gardens occupied by this species were more common and larger in larger forest gaps. Gaps with more open canopies were correlated with a decrease in ground foraging by C. femoratus.

Others documenting ant gardens in this species include Campbell et al. (2022), Davidson (1988) (noted as ant-garden initiator), Dejean et al. (2000), Kleinfeldt (1986), Marini Filho (1999), Orivel & Leroy (2011), Orivel & Dejean (1999) (noted as ant-garden initiator), Schmit-Neuerburg & Bluthgen (2007), Weber (1943), Wheeler (1921) and Youngsteadt et al. (2009) (noted as ant-garden initiator).

Cuticular Hydrocarbons

Greve et al. (2019) examined the cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of this species and Crematogaster levior. These two ants are parabiotic (share a nest but maintain separate brood chambers). It had previously been shown that there are two different phenotypes/chemotypes of both species, with no apparent differences in their morphology and ecology (Emery & Tsutsui, 2013; Menzel, Orivel, Kaltenpoth, & Schmitt, 2014). The current study gathered cuticular hydrocarbon data from many colonies across a large area (within French Guiana), and also recorded information about secondary metabolites, morphological traits and genotypes. Analysis of the chemical and genetic data clearly separated each species into two distinct groups. A less distinctive but still relevant difference was noted in the morphological data for each of the two species types. The two C. femoratus forms also showed a distinct ecological pattern, with one being more common in the drier, western half of the area where colonies were sampled and the other more prevalent in the wetter and slightly cooler eastern area of sampling. There was no evidence for any segregation by species group within the mutualistic relationship of these two ants, e.g., the two forms of C. femoratus did not show any preference for associating with either form of C levior.

Association with Other Organisms

Explore: Show all Associate data or Search these data. See also a list of all data tables or learn how data is managed.

This species is a xenobiont for the ant Solenopsis picea (a host).


  • This species is a host for the phorid fly Apocephalus laceyi (a parasite) ( (attacked).
  • This species is a host for the phorid fly Diocophora sp (a parasite) (Brown et al., 2015) (injured).
  • This species is a host for the phorid fly Rhyncophoromyia sp (a parasite) (Brown et al., 2015) (injured).
  • This species is a host for the phorid fly Diocophora sp. (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).
  • This species is a host for the phorid fly Rhyncophoromyia sp. (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).


  • This species is a host for the fungus Ophiocordyceps camponoti-femorati (a pathogen) (Araujo et al., 2018).
  • This species is a host for the fungus Ophiocordyceps camponoti-femorati (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).
  • This species is a host for the fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).


Images from AntWeb

Camponotus femoratus casent0249352 d 1 high.jpgCamponotus femoratus casent0249352 h 1 high.jpgCamponotus femoratus casent0249352 p 1 high.jpgCamponotus femoratus casent0249352 l 1 high.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0249352. Photographer Will Ericson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by PSWC, Philip S. Ward Collection.
Camponotus femoratus casent0249605 h 1 high.jpgCamponotus femoratus casent0249605 p 1 high.jpgCamponotus femoratus casent0249605 d 1 high.jpgCamponotus femoratus casent0249605 l 1 high.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0249605. Photographer Ryan Perry, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by JTLC.
Camponotus femoratus casent0619231 p 1 high.jpgCamponotus femoratus casent0619231 d 1 high.jpgCamponotus femoratus casent0619231 h 1 high.jpgCamponotus femoratus casent0619231 l 1 high.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0619231. Photographer Ryan Perry, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by JTLC.


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

  • femoratus. Formica femorata Fabricius, 1804: 397 (q.) (no state data, “Habitat in America meridionali”).
    • [Note: type-locality Brazil (Amazonas), after Forel, 1895b: 102.]
    • Emery, 1894c: 174 (w.); Forel, 1904c: 49 (s.).
    • Combination in Formica (Camponotus): Roger, 1862c: 284;
    • combination in Camponotus: Roger, 1863b: 4;
    • combination in C. (Myrmothrix): Forel, 1914a: 269.
    • Junior synonym of rufipes: Roger, 1861b: 164.
    • Status as species: Lepeletier de Saint-Fargeau, 1835: 213; Smith, F. 1858b: 48; Roger, 1862c: 284; Roger, 1863b: 4; Mayr, 1863: 398; Dalla Torre, 1893: 231; Emery, 1894c: 174; Forel, 1895b: 102; Emery, 1896d: 372 (in list); Forel, 1904e: 705; Wheeler, W.M. 1916d: 330; Crawley, 1916b: 376; Wheeler, W.M. 1918b: 27; Wheeler, W.M. 1921f: 167; Wheeler, W.M. 1922c: 15; Wheeler, W.M. 1923a: 5; Emery, 1925b: 108; Borgmeier, 1927c: 150; Santschi, 1929d: 313; Wheeler, W.M. & Bequaert, 1929: 37; Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 256; Kempf, 1970b: 341; Kempf, 1972a: 61; Hashmi, 1973: 44 (redescription); Bolton, 1995b: 99; Bezděčková, et al. 2015: 112; Mackay & Mackay, 2019: 759.



  • 2n = 44, karyotype = 4ST+40T (French Guiana) (Mariano et al., 2011).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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  • Dejean A., A. Compin, J. H. C. Delabie, F. Azemar, B. Corbara, and M. Leponce. 2019. Biotic and abiotic determinants of the formation of ant mosaics in primary Neotropical rainforests. Ecological Entomology
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  • Delabie J. H. C., R. Céréghino, S. Groc, A. Dejean, M. Gibernau, B. Corbara, and A. Dejean. 2009. Ants as biological indicators of Wayana Amerindian land use in French Guiana. Comptes Rendus Biologies 332(7): 673-684.
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