Camponotus ligniperda

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Camponotus ligniperda
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Camponotini
Genus: Camponotus
Species: C. ligniperda
Binomial name
Camponotus ligniperda
(Latreille, 1802)

Camponotus ligniperda casent0173649 profile 1.jpg

Camponotus ligniperda casent0173649 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


This is a common species present throughout Europe as well as the Caucasus and Asia Minor. Its distribution is generally more southern than that of Camponotus herculeanus (Czechowski et al. 2002). It inhabits mostly mixed and deciduous forests, but can also be found in open habitats. Nests are built mostly in dead trees or wood stumps (Marko et al., 2009). In Greece, this species is known only from mountains of mainland provinces except Thrace, and was also noted from Ionian Islands. It prefers coniferous forests and rocky alpine pastures. Nests were observed in a decaying fir trunk (Borowiec & Salata, 2021).

Photo Gallery

  • Workers. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Worker. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Camponotus ligniperda, full-face. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Major worker. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Worker of Camponotus ligniperda. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Queen of Camponotus ligniperda. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Camponotus ligniperda alate queen. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Camponotus ligniperda queen and worker. Photo by Michal Kukla.


Collingwood (1979) - Alitrunk bright yellowish red to red; pubescence is short and sparse, usually absent on medial dorsal surfaces of the first and second gaster tergites. Length: 6-14 mm.

This species is similar in all castes to Camponotus herculeanus but distinguished by the brighter colour and more shining gaster.

Keys including this Species


Central Spain to West Russia, Sicily to Central Sweden (Collingwood 1979).

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 66° to 23.299°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (type locality), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye, Ukraine.

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.


Collingwood (1979) - This species is characteristically found in stony banks and along the sun exposed borders of woodland, either nesting under stones or in dry stumps. It is an aggressive ant biting freely and will sometimes attack other Camponotus or Formica colonies. The larger workers bite their opponents clean through the alitrunk or crush their heads with their strong mandibles. A more xerothermic species than Camponotus herculeanus its habits are otherwise similar.

Flight Period

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


Association with Other Organisms

Explore-icon.png 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 Aphaenogaster subterranea (a xenobiont) in Hungary (Kanizsai et al., 2013) (Pine forest. Under stone.).
  • 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) (Shrestha et al., 2017).
  • This species is a host for the fungus Desmidiospora myrmecophila (a pathogen) (based on a photo by Michal Kukla, fungal identification by João Araújo).
  • Likely killed by the fungus Desmidiospora myrmecophila. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Likely killed by the fungus Desmidiospora myrmecophila. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Likely killed by the fungus Desmidiospora myrmecophila. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Camponotus ligniperda queen likely killed by the parasitic fungus Desmidiospora myrmecophila. Photo by Michal Kukla.



Images from AntWeb

Camponotus ligniperda casent0173649 head 1.jpgCamponotus ligniperda casent0173649 profile 1.jpgCamponotus ligniperda casent0173649 dorsal 1.jpgCamponotus ligniperda casent0173649 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0173649. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Images from AntWeb

Camponotus ligniperda casent0173174 head 1.jpgCamponotus ligniperda casent0173174 profile 1.jpgCamponotus ligniperda casent0173174 dorsal 1.jpgCamponotus ligniperda casent0173174 label 1.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0173174. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.


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

  • ligniperda. Formica ligniperda Latreille, 1802c: 88, pl. 1, fig. 1 (s.w.q.m.) FRANCE.
    • [Misspelled as higniperda by Donisthorpe, 1950e: 1066; misspelled as ligniperedus by Radchenko, 1997a: 557.]
    • Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1953e: 187 (l.); Hauschteck, 1961: 221 (k.).
    • Combination in Camponotus: Mayr, 1861: 36 (in key);
    • combination in C. (Camponotus): Forel, 1914a: 266.
    • Junior synonym of herculeanus: Fabricius, 1804: 396; Brullé, 1833: 326; Lepeletier de Saint-Fargeau, 1835: 209.
    • Subspecies of herculeanus: Forel, 1874: 39 (in key); Emery, 1878a: viii (in list); Emery & Forel, 1879: 447; Forel, 1879a: 58; Mayr, 1886d: 420; Cresson, 1887: 256; Lameere, 1892: 62; Forel, 1892i: 306; Emery, in Dalla Torre, 1893: 233 (footnote); Emery, 1893i: 674; Emery, 1896d: 372 (in list); Ruzsky, 1903b: 301; Ruzsky, 1905b: 223; Wheeler, W.M. 1905f: 402; Wheeler, W.M. 1906b: 22; Wheeler, W.M. 1906c: 325; Wasmann, 1906: 111; Emery, 1908a: 185; Wheeler, W.M. 1908f: 625; Bondroit, 1910: 487; Yano, 1910: 422; Wheeler, W.M. 1910d: 340; Wheeler, W.M. 1910g: 571; Forel, 1914a: 266; Forel, 1915d: 68 (in key); Emery, 1916b: 225; Wheeler, W.M. 1916m: 601; Wheeler, W.M. 1917a: 557; Wheeler, W.M. 1917i: 465; Escherich, 1917: 330 (in key); Menozzi, 1918: 87; Nadig, 1918: 339; Soudek, 1922: 95; Finzi, 1923: 4; Schkaff, 1925: 275; Stärcke, 1926: 119 (in key); Karavaiev, 1927c: 275 (in key); Karavaiev, 1929b: 211; Karavaiev, 1930b: 147; Soudek, 1931: 19; Gösswald, 1932: 19; Arnol'di, 1933b: 602 (in key); Zimmermann, 1935: 58; Cole, 1936a: 39; Teranishi, 1940: 25; Wesson, L.G. & Wesson, R.G. 1940: 103; Ruzsky, 1946: 69; Azuma, 1951: 88; Pisarski, 1961a: 156; Bernard, 1967: 340 (in key).
    • Status as species: Walckenaer, 1802: 159; Gravenhorst, 1807: 286; Lamarck, 1817: 95; Stephens, 1829: 356; Losana, 1834: 311; Schilling, 1839: 53; Nylander, 1846a: 898; Nylander, 1846b: 1045; Lucas, H. 1849: 302; Foerster, 1850a: 11; Schenck, 1852: 20; Mayr, 1855: 304 (redescription); Nylander, 1856b: 55; Gredler, 1858: 3; Smith, F. 1858b: 10; Mayr, 1861: 36 (in key); Meinert, 1861: 310; Mayr, 1863: 399; Roger, 1863b: 1; Walker, 1871: 9; Dours, 1873: 164; Smith, F. 1874: 402; Forel, 1874: 39; André, 1874: 176 (in key); Emery, 1878b: 44; Mayr, 1879: 645; André, 1882a: 142 (in key); Forel, 1886e: clxvii; Provancher, 1887: 228 (in key); Forel, 1889: 255; Nasonov, 1889: 10; Emery, 1892b: 161; Dalla Torre, 1893: 239; Ruzsky, 1896: 68; Forel, 1899c: 130; Forel, 1902b: 180; Ruzsky, 1902d: 5; Forel, 1909c: 105; Bondroit, 1912: 352; Stitz, 1914: 95; Bondroit, 1918: 69; Emery, 1920b: 255; Menozzi, 1922c: 143; Müller, 1923a: 73; Müller, 1923b: 159; Emery, 1925b: 73; Betrem, 1926: 216; Donisthorpe, 1927a: 8; Menozzi, 1927b: 92; Lomnicki, 1928: 10; Grandi, 1935: 102; Karavaiev, 1936: 181 (redescription); Stitz, 1939: 237; Novák & Sadil, 1941: 111 (in key); Röszler, 1942a: 54; Holgersen, 1942: 11; Holgersen, 1943b: 174 (in key); Holgersen, 1944: 179; van Boven, 1947: 181 (in key); Donisthorpe, 1950e: 1066; Röszler, 1950: 210; Röszler, 1951: 92; Chapman & Capco, 1951: 222; Consani & Zangheri, 1952: 43; Ceballos, 1956: 313; Baroni Urbani, 1964c: 163; Arnol’di, 1967: 1822; Kutter, 1968a: 60; Collingwood & Yarrow, 1969: 81; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 176; Collingwood, 1971: 163; Banert & Pisarski, 1972: 352; Pisarski, 1975: 29; van Boven, 1977: 133; Kutter, 1977c: 205; Collingwood, 1978: 91 (in key); Collingwood, 1979: 91; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987a: 58; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987b: 283 (in key); Nilsson & Douwes, 1987: 68; Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 212; Bolton, 1995b: 108; Douwes, 1995: 92; Poldi, et al. 1995: 7; Radchenko, 1996b: 1202 (in key); Espadaler, 1997b: 27; Radchenko, 1997a: 557; Gallé, et al. 1998: 216; Czechowski, et al. 2002: 96; Karaman, M.G. & Karaman, 2003: 47; Csösz, & Markó, 2005: 228; Karaman, G.S. & Karaman, 2005: 58; Bračko, 2006: 146; Markó, Sipos, et al. 2006: 66; Petrov, 2006: 109 (in key); Bračko, 2007: 19; Seifert, 2007: 263; Werner & Wiezik, 2007: 143; Zryanin & Zryanina, 2007: 232; Casevitz-Weulersse & Galkowsky, 2009: 479; Lapeva-Gjonova, et al. 2010: 44; Boer, 2010: 18; Csösz, et al. 2011: 58; Karaman, M.G. 2011b: 71; Legakis, 2011: 31; Ran & Zhou, 2011: 68; Borowiec, L. & Salata, 2012: 479; Czechowski, et al. 2012: 242; Guénard & Dunn, 2012: 29; Kiran & Karaman, 2012: 7; Karaman, C. & Aktaç, 2013: 52 (in key); Borowiec, L. & Salata, 2013: 352; Borowiec, L. 2014: 36 (see note in bibliography); Bračko, et al. 2014: 18; Lebas, et al. 2016: 128; Radchenko, 2016: 330; Salata & Borowiec, 2018c: 43; Seifert, 2018: 257.
    • [Note: Seifert, 2019a: 1, reports herculeanus × ligniperda worker hybrids.]
    • Senior synonym of herculeanoligniperdus: Yasumatsu & Brown, 1951: 31; Pisarski, 1961a: 156; Bolton, 1995b: 108; Czechowski, et al. 2002: 96; Czechowski, et al. 2012: 242; Radchenko, 2016: 330.
    • Senior synonym of obsoleta: Emery, 1892b: 161; Emery, 1925b: 74; Karavaiev, 1936: 181; Bolton, 1995b: 108; Casevitz-Weulersse & Galkowsky, 2009: 479; Radchenko, 2016: 330.
    • Current subspecies: nominal plus afer, nigrescens.
  • herculeanoligniperdus. Camponotus ligniperdus var. herculeanoligniperdus Dalla Torre, 1893: 235.
    • [First available use of Camponotus herculeanus r. ligniperdus var. herculeanoligniperdus Forel, 1874: 39 (w.q.m.) SWITZERLAND; unavailable (infrasubspecific) name.]
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Emery & Forel, 1879: 447; Forel, 1879a: 59; André, 1882a: 143; Emery, 1896d: 372 (in list); Ruzsky, 1905b: 225 (in text); Emery, 1908a: 185; Forel, 1915d: 69 (in key); Emery, 1916b: 225; Nadig, 1918: 340; Soudek, 1922: 96.
    • Subspecies of herculeanus: Ruzsky, 1896: 68; Nadig, 1918: 340; Menozzi, 1922c: 144; Karavaiev, 1926e: 192; Stärcke, 1926: 119 (in key); Novák & Sadil, 1941: 110 (in key); Holgersen, 1943b: 172 (in key).
    • Subspecies of ligniperda: Menozzi, 1922c: 144; Emery, 1925b: 74.
    • Status as species: Gösswald, 1932: 25; Stitz, 1939: 242.
    • Junior synonym of ligniperdus: Yasumatsu & Brown, 1951: 31; Pisarski, 1961a: 156; Bolton, 1995b: 108; Czechowski, et al. 2012: 233; Radchenko, 2016: 330.
  • obsoleta. Formica obsoleta Christ, 1791: 509, pl. 60, fig. 5 (q.).
    • [Unresolved junior primary homonym of obsoleta Linnaeus, 1758: 580 (Bolton, 1995b: 114).]
    • Junior synonym of ligniperda: Emery, 1892b: 161; Emery, 1925b: 74; Karavaiev, 1936: 181; Bolton, 1995b: 114; Casevitz-Weulersse & Galkowsky, 2009: 479; Radchenko, 2016: 330.

Type Material

Seifert, 2019: Latreille spent unusually much space arguing about “la torture pour les reconnoitre” of the two huge red-breasted ant species named, at that time, Formica ligniperda and Formica herculeana. There is one statement in the description that suggests non-synonymy of his ant with Camponotus herculeanus: “L’abdomen est...noir, luisant, avec le devant du premier anneau d’un rouge sanguin,...” (The abdomen is black, shining, with the anterior part of the first ring bloodred). This wording does not clearly quantify how large the red surface in front of the first gaster segment really was, but Latreille most probably meant a larger patch of a lighter red that is typical for Camponotus ligniperda (Seifert 1989, 2018). This vague indication gets some support from the climatic and geographic conditions at the type locality Brivela-Gaillarde (45.17°N, 1.53°E, 115 m), the surroundings of which hardly exceed an elevation of 500 m. If we subtract 1.0 °C of global warming from the current climate data of Brive, the mean air temperature from 1 May to 31 August should have been 17.6 °C around the year 1800; this value decreases to 15.0 °C at elevations of 500 m, and the annual precipitation was about 700 mm. These data are within the optimum of the climate niche of C. ligniperda, but represent more marginal conditions within the niche of C. herculeanus (Seifert 1989, 2017, 2018). Accordingly, we may expect C. herculeanus to have been much rarer or absent in this region during Latreille’s time.

Whatever interpretation is given, there is no definite proof which ant Latreille really meant and investigation of type specimens is required. However, according to a message from J. Casevitz-Weulersse of 13 June 2008, there are no specimens in the collection of Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle Paris that could be considered as types. To finally settle the identity of Camponotus ligniperda, a neotype is fixed herewith at a medium-sized worker labelled “FRA: 45.3600°N, 1.9444°E/Vitrac-sur-Montane 1.8 km S/550 m, leg. Galkowski 2008.08.28” and “Neotype Camponotus ligniperda (Latr. 1802) des B. Seifert 2018”. This specimen was collected with two other workers from a nest found 38 km NE of Brive-la-Gaillarde and is stored in the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz.

Taxonomic Notes

Seifert (2019) found a low-level of hybridisation between C. ligniperda and Camponotus herculeanus. The frequency of hybridization between the two species is estimated for Central Europe as 0.2–1.0%. This low ratio indicates strong reproductive barriers considering syntopic occurrence at about 10% of the observation sites, a nearly complete overlap of swarming times and basically equal meteorological conditions to release swarming. Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.


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Borowiec and Salata (2022) - Large to very large, polymorphic; minor workers HL: 1.940-2.183 (mean 2.037); HW: 1.520-1.817 (mean 1.669); SL: 1.980-2.133 (mean 2.043); EL: 0.480-0.563 (mean 0.515); ML: 2.94-3.23; MW: 1.26-1.51. Color. Head black, mandibles reddish brown to brown, sometimes also clypeus and anterior part of gena reddish brown to brown, antennal scapi brown, funicle yellowish brown to dark brown, mesosoma and petiolar scale reddish, occasionally sides of mesosoma and upper half of petiole indistinctly infuscated by brown spots with diffused borders, in melanistic specimens mesosoma mostly brown to black with reddish brown spots, gaster mostly dark brown to black, anterior face of first tergite with yellowish brown to reddish brown spot, often this pale spot occupies also anterior part of dorsal surface of the first tergite, anterior margin of second and third tergite often reddish brown thus transparent white posterior margin is placed on paler background then surface of tergites appears transversely yellow striped, coxa and femora reddish, tibiae reddish brown and tarsi mostly brown, in pale forms whole legs yellowish red, in dark forms whole tibiae and tarsi brown. Head. 1.2-1.3 times longer than wide, sides in front of eyes straight, softly converging anterad, behind eyes regularly rounded, posterior margin also rounded. Clypeus pentagonal, transverse, its anterior margin convex with slightly crenulate anterior margin, on sides clypeal margin deeply emarginate and forms with gena obtuse angulation protruding anterad, sides of clypeus strongly convergent posterad, straight, posterior margin straight but in the middle emarginate by frontal triangle, whole surface distinctly microreticulated, surface slightly shiny, covered with sparse and short, hardly visible appressed hairs, anterior margin in the middle with 6 very long setae, on sides with few short additional setae and between anterior long setae with very short seta, central plate with pair of long setae anterolaterally and a pair of long setae close to frontal triangle. Head distinctly microreticulate, from slightly shiny to slightly dull, the sculpture in posterior 1/3 length of head tends to form transverse striation, covered with sparse and short appressed pubescence, appears partly unhaired, frons along sides with a row of 2-3 long erected setae, vertex with 2-4 very long , occipitum, gena and sides of head lacking erected setae, ventral side of head with 2-4 moderately long to long erected setae. Scape elongate, thin, 1.2-1.3 times as long as width of head, slightly, regularly widened from base to apex, its surface microreticulate but shiny, with short and sparse appressed pubescence. Funicular segments elongate, thin, first segment 2.7 times as long as wide and 1.4-1.5 times as long as second segment, third segment slightly longer than second, the rest of funicular segments distinctly longer than broad. Eyes large, elongate oval, 0.25 length of head. Mandibles stout, diffusely microreticulate and elongate punctate, surface shiny. Mesosoma. Elongate, 2.1-2.4 times as long as wide, dorsally and laterally distinctly microreticulated, sculpture on sides of mesosoma tends to form longitudinal and oblique striation, surface shiny. In lateral view dorsum form regular arch, without mesonotal groove, propodeum broadly rounded. Surface of pronotal dorsum and mesonotum with short and scarce, hardly visible depressed hairs, lateral sides mostly unhaired, pronotum with 0-4, mesonotum 0-3, propodeum 2-6 very long erected setae, number of erected setae increases with the size of the ant. Waist and gaster. Petiolein form of broad, thick scale with convex anterior and flat posterior face, apex regularly rounded; surface with distinct transverse striation covered with short and sparse appressed hairs, apical crest with 6-12 very long erected setae. Gaster shorter than mesosoma, tergites with transverse microstriation, interspaces between the fine transverse microstriation without or with diffused additional microsculpture thus surface of gaster dorsally and laterally appears indistinctly shiny, covered with short and scarce appressed hairs not covering background of tergites, average length of 7 pubescence hairs from the central area of the dorsal plane of first tergite 0.047-0.072 mm; all tergites with several very long erected setae. Legs. Moderately long and thin, hind femora shorter than mesosoma, surface of legs covered with sparse appressed to slightly decumbent hairs, inner margin of tibiae apically with row of thorns. Ventral surface of fore femora with up to two long erected setae. Major workers: HL: 2.967-3.183 (mean 3.096); HW: 3.100-3.466 (mean 3.271); SL: 2.466-2.533 (mean 2.511); EL: 0.651-0.682 (mean 0.669); ML: 4.15-4.27; MW: 2.08-2.26. In body color and sculpture similar to minor workers but surface duller than in minor workers . Head stouter, 0.9-1.0 times as long as wide, anterior margin of clypeus distinctly crenulate, central plate of clypeus sometimes with additional 2-4 short erected setae, frontal area of head and vertex with more numerous erected setae, but occipital part lacking erected setae, gular area with more than 10 short to long erected setae. Scape proportionally shorter, 0.7-0.8 times as long as width of head. Eyes proportionally smaller, 0.22 length of head. Propodeum in profile forms almost straight obtuse angle. Setation of all mesosomal parts more numerous, pronotum with up to 10, mesonotum to 6 and propodeum to 12 setae, petiolar crest with 12-16 long setae. Ventral surface of fore femora with 1-3 long erected setae.


  • n = 14, 2n = 28 (Switzerland) (Hauschteck, 1961; Hauschteck-Jungen & Jungen, 1983).


Seifert, 2019: Two Latin spellings of the ant which Latreille had also named in French “fourmi rongé-bois” have been in use by various authors over the last 60 years: Camponotus ligniperda and C. ligniperdus. This disparity causes confusion (but is in reality not a very important issue because it does not lead to confusion with other Camponotus species). The latter spelling assumes that “ligniperda” is a female adjective attached to the female noun Formica and has to change its ending to “-us” when the species is transferred to the masculine genus Camponotus. The other spelling assumes that Latreille used “ligniperda” as a noun in apposition, which remains unchanged in combination with a genus name of any gender (§ 31.2.1. and § 31.2.2. of ICZN). This interpretation as a noun (meaning “wood destroyer”) was clearly expressed by Kutter (1977) and I consistently followed this usage throughout the last 40 years. Indirect conclusions on Latreille’s naming intention, considering the vernacular compound word “rongé-bois”, appear problematic as I received different proposals by native French speakers. The deciding point in this debate is that “ligniperda” is no accidental linguistic fault—this word really exists as a Latin noun and Pierre André Latreille, as a Latin-educated catholic priest, and Heinrich Kutter, as an old-school pharmacist educated in the 1920s, should have known this. To have this view confirmed, I asked the distinguished Latin expert Prof. Thomas Baier from the Institute of Classical Philology of the University of Würzburg. He fully concurred. This is what he wrote in a letter of 15 July 2013: “.... assessing your problem according to the rules of classical Latin, ligniperda would be a noun, which always is written ligniperda in connection with masculine and feminine, thus not being adapted in its suffix—just as you have assumed. A parallel form is parricida (murderer of relatives). Johann von Schwaben, who killed his uncle Albrecht von Schwaben around 1300, is known since then in the history books (and in Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell) as “Johannes parricida”. What applies to Swabian dukes also applies to ants, si parva licet componere magnis...”.


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