Camponotus novaeboracensis

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Camponotus novaeboracensis
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. novaeboracensis
Binomial name
Camponotus novaeboracensis
(Fitch, 1855)

Camponotus noveboracensis casent0103348 profile 1.jpg

Camponotus noveboracensis casent0103348 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Camponotus novaeboracensis nests in rotten wood, (Mackay and Mackay, 2002), in and under logs and stumps, in dead branches on the ground and under bark, boards, or even under stones (especially incipient nests) and cow dung (Wheeler and Wheeler, 1963; Hansen and Klotz 2005). New nests can be found in hollow twigs. Colonies are small, with about 3000 workers (Hansen and Klotz 2005). Gibson (1989) discusses the production of soldiers during colony growth, with older colonies having a higher proportion of majors. Brood and sexuals were found in nests in June, August and September. Dealate females were collected in April, June, July and August, a flight was observed in June (21:00 - 22:00). (Mackay, 2019)

Photo Gallery

  • Major worker. Photo by Tom Murray.
  • Major worker. Photo by Tom Murray.
  • Camponotus noveboracensis South Bristol, New York, USA (Alex Wild)
  • Fully winged queen. Photo by Tom Murray.
  • Queen in an incipient nest under the bark of a log. Mashpee, MA USA
  • Nest with both minor and major workers. Photo by Tom Murray.


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

Compare with Camponotus chromaiodes, Camponotus herculeanus, Camponotus pennsylvanicus.

The majors, minors and females of C. novaeboracensis have a black head and gaster and a red mesosoma, making them large very attractive ants. The females can be completely black. Erect and suberect setae are sparse on the head, mesosoma, petiole and gaster and absent on the cheeks, malar area, sides of the head, posterior lateral corners and tibiae, except for 2 rows of setae on the flexor surface.

The males are moderately large (total length 8 mm) black ants.


The major of C. novaeboracensis has lateral clypeal angles, which are not well developed. The antennal scapes are without erect and suberect setae (except at the apex) and extend nearly 1 funicular segment past the posterior lateral corners of the head in both the majors and the females. The pubescence on the gaster of all castes of C. novaeboracensis is very fine, with none of the setae overlapping adjacent setae. The punctures on the head are of two sizes, the majority are very fine, and the other scattered punctures are larger in diameter. These characteristics usually separate this species from others of the subgenus Camponotus.

Camponotus novaeboracensis is very similar to Camponotus pennsylvanicus (S Canada, US). They can be separated as the workers and often the females of C. novaeboracensis are bicolored, whereas they are nearly always concolorous black in C. pennsylvanicus. Questionable specimens can be separated as the setae on the gaster of workers and females of C. novaeboracensis are relatively short, with few or no appressed setae overlapping adjacent setae, whereas in C. pennsylvanicus the setae are longer and most overlap adjacent setae. Unfortunately, neither of these characteristics serve to separate the males, and there are no obvious characters which will separate them. Camponotus novaeboracensis is sympatric with C. pennsylvanicus in Iowa with no integration which is strong evidence that they are separate species (Buren, 1944).

Camponotus novaeboracensis can be confused with Camponotus herculeanus (S Canada, US), and the two species are genetically similar (Sämi Schär, et al., 2018). The major workers are usually easy to separate, as the scapes of C. herculeanus do not extend past the posterior lateral corner of the head (they extend well past the corners in C. novaeboracensis). The minor workers of C. novaeboracensis can often be separated as the mesosoma of C. herculeanus is mostly black, or dark red, whereas it is normally red, contrasting with the black head and gaster in C. novaeboracensis. The females of the two species are very difficult to separate. The female of C. herculeanus has a wider head, with the cephalic index ranging from 113 - 114. The cephalic index of C. novaeboracensis ranges from 106 to 108. The dorsum of the mesosoma of the female of C. herculeanus is nearly always black, whereas it is normally partially red in C. novaeboracensis.

It is possible to confuse C. novaeboracensis with Camponotus chromaiodes as they are both mostly dark, with a partially red mesosoma. They can be best separated as the setae on the dorsum of the gaster of C. novaeboracensis are short and similar to the color of the background, whereas they are longer and golden on the gaster of C. chromaiodes, including on the major, minor and female.


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

Camponotus novaeboracensis is found in several habitats including deciduous forest, pine/oaks on sand, beach maple, hardwood forest, mixed hardwood conifer forest and oak-evergreen forest, as well as oak, ash, cottonwoods, aspen, willow woods and grasslands (Wheeler and Wheeler, 1963) in addition to black cherry forests (Yitbarek et al., 2011), grasslands and shrublands (Barber, 2015) and open fields (Oberg, 2012). Buren (1944) concluded it was more boreal than C. pennsylvanicus.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 62.41323333° to 1.311674476°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: Canada, 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.


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

Sanders (1972) studied foraging in C. novaeboracensis and found that the start of seasonal activity was temperature dependent and peaked in mid-summer. Workers forage throughout the day and night.

Food sources include honeydew produced by the membracid, Vanduzea arquata (Say), the sap exudate flowing from a wound in the trunk of a common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, and the carcasses of dead insects (Gotwald, 1968). The behavior of the worker ants in exploiting each of these sources is discussed in detail by Gotwald (1968). It is a honeydew feeder (Oberg, 2012), which tends aphids (Jones, 1929), as well as membracids patrolling bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) during the sensitive crozier growth stage. At times these ants remove herbivorous insects from rapidly expanding fronds (Oldenkamp and Douglas, 2011).

Camponotus novaeboracensis is a behaviorally dominant ant (Oberg, 2012) with a strong negative association with the congener Camponotus pennsylvanicus (Thompson and McLachlan, 2007), although it can be a neutrally interacting species found mainly in forest plots (Del Toro et al., 2013).

Camponotus novaeboracensis is the host of the ant cricket Myrmecophilus pergandei (Hebard, 1920), and the principal host for Nemadus triangulum (Coleoptera: Leiodidae) (Peck and Cook, 2007). Reemer (2012) discusses parasitism by the syrphid fly Microdon sp. It is the host of parasites Microdon cothurnatus and M. tristis (Duffield, 1981). The pupae are parasitized by Pseudochalcura gibbosa (Eucharitidae) wasps (Wheeler, 1907; Lachaud, J.-P. and G. Pérez-Lachaud. 2012). Ants carry wasp larvae to the nest and feed them, where the small wasp eats ants (Ellison et al., 2012).

They are the host of the endosymbiotic bacterium Candidatus Blochmannia (Degnan et al., 2004) and the host of Wolbachia bacteria (Wernegreen et al., 2009). They have gram-negative prokaryotic endosymbionts in the follicle cells (Peloquin et al., 2001).

It is an occasional house pest (Mackay and Mackay, 2002; Hansen and Klotz 2005).

Fitzpatrick et al. (2013) used the models MaxEnt and MaxLike to predict the distribution.

It was introduced into Bermuda (Hilburn et al., 1990), but is apparently not established (Wetter and Wetter, 2004).

Additional Notes

The pupae of this medium-sized carpenter ant are often parasitized by small Pseudochalcura gibbosa wasps; the larvae of these wasps are taken back to the nest by the ants as a food source for the developing brood. But the eaten become the eaters, as some of the wasp larvae develop and then devour the ants. (Ellison et al. 2012)

Flight Period

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

Source: Notes: Washington (May).

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.

Life History Traits

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



Images from AntWeb

Camponotus noveboracensis casent0103349 head 1.jpgCamponotus noveboracensis casent0103349 profile 1.jpgCamponotus noveboracensis casent0103349 dorsal 1.jpgCamponotus noveboracensis casent0103349 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0103349. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by USNM, Washington, DC, USA.


Images from AntWeb

Camponotus noveboracensis casent0103350 head 1.jpgCamponotus noveboracensis casent0103350 profile 1.jpgCamponotus noveboracensis casent0103350 profile 2.jpgCamponotus noveboracensis casent0103350 profile 3.jpgCamponotus noveboracensis casent0103350 dorsal 1.jpgCamponotus noveboracensis casent0103350 label 1.jpg
Male (alate). Specimen code casent0103350. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by USNM, Washington, DC, USA.


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

  • novaeboracensis. Formica novaeboracensis Fitch, 1855: 766 (w.) U.S.A. (New York).
    • [Misspelled as noveboracensis by Wheeler, W.M. 1910d: 340, Creighton, 1950a: 369, Mackay, 2019: 277, and many others.]
    • Wheeler, W.M. 1910d: 340 (s.w.q.m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1953e: 182 (l.).
    • Combination in Camponotus: Roger, 1863b: 6;
    • combination in C. (Camponotus): Emery, 1925b: 72.
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Wheeler, W.M. 1900c: 47; Wheeler, W.M. 1906b: 23; Wheeler, W.M. 1908f: 625; Wheeler, W.M. 1910d: 340; Wheeler, W.M. 1910g: 571; Wheeler, W.M. 1916m: 601; Wheeler, W.M. 1917a: 557; Wheeler, W.M. 1917c: 27; Wheeler, W.M. 1917i: 466; Cole, 1936a: 39; Wing, 1939: 163; Wesson, L.G. & Wesson, R.G. 1940: 103; Cole, 1942: 388; Smith, M.R. 1951a: 839.
    • Junior synonym of herculeanus: Mayr, 1863: 399; Forel, 1874: 96 (in list); Emery & Forel, 1879: 447; Emery & Forel, 1879: 447.
    • Junior synonym of pennsylvanicus: Mayr, 1886d: 420; Dalla Torre, 1893: 247; Emery, 1896d: 372 (in list).
    • Subspecies of ligniperda: Forel, 1899c: 130.
    • Subspecies of herculeanus: Emery, 1925b: 72; Buren, 1944a: 293; Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, E.W. 1944: 250; Buren, 1944a: 293.
    • Status as species: Roger, 1863b: 6; Creighton, 1950a: 369; Smith, M.R. 1958c: 142; Smith, M.R. 1967: 366; Francoeur, 1975: 264; Francoeur, 1977b: 207; Yensen, et al. 1977: 184; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1426; Allred, 1982: 456; Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1986g: 60 (in key); DuBois & LaBerge, 1988: 146; Wheeler, G.C., et al. 1994: 305; Bolton, 1995b: 114; Mackay & Mackay, 2002: 298; Coovert, 2005: 167; Hansen & Klotz, 2005: 84; Ellison, et al. 2012: 123; Mackay, 2019: 277 (redescription).
    • Senior synonym of pictus: Forel, 1899c: 130; Wheeler, W.M. 1910d: 340; Creighton, 1950a: 369; Smith, M.R. 1951a: 839; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1427; Bolton, 1995b: 114; Mackay, 2019: 278.
    • Senior synonym of rubens: Creighton, 1950a: 370; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1427; Bolton, 1995b: 114; Mackay, 2019: 278.
  • pictus. Camponotus ligniperdus var. pictus Forel, 1886f: 141.
    • [First available use of Camponotus herculeanus r. ligniperdus var. pictus Forel, 1879a: 59 (w.q.m.) U.S.A. (Illinois, Wisconsin), MEXICO; unavailable (infrasubspecific) name.]
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Emery, 1893i: 674; Emery, 1896d: 372 (in list); Wheeler, W.M. 1905f: 402.
    • Subspecies of herculeanus: Mayr, 1886d: 420; Cresson, 1887: 255.
    • Subspecies of ligniperda: Dalla Torre, 1893: 240.
    • Junior synonym of novaeboracensis: Forel, 1899c: 130; Wheeler, W.M. 1910d: 340; Creighton, 1950a: 369; Smith, M.R. 1951a: 839; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1427; Bolton, 1995b: 117; Mackay, 2019: 278.
  • rubens. Camponotus (Camponotus) herculeanus var. rubens Emery, 1925b: 73.
    • [First available use of Camponotus herculeanus subsp. ligniperdus var. rubens Wheeler, W.M. 1906a: 41 (w.m.) U.S.A. (Maine, Michigan); unavailable (infrasubspecific) name.]
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Wheeler, W.M. 1906b: 24; Wheeler, W.M. 1910d: 341; Wheeler, W.M. 1910g: 571; Wing, 1939: 163; Smith, M.R. 1951a: 842; Smith, M.R. 1958c: 161.
    • Junior synonym of novaeboracensis: Creighton, 1950a: 370; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1427; Bolton, 1995b: 121; Mackay, 2019: 278.

Type Material

Camponotus herculeanus ligniperda var. rubens: 2 cotype females, 1 cotype male, Main, Bothel, A Edwards (1 q, 1 m MCZC # 21446), Michigan, 1864, C. Clark (1 q MCZC # 21446) [all seen]. Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.


Major worker measurements (mm): HL 2.08 - 2.92, HW 2.12 - 3.22, SL 1.98 - 2.32, EL 0.48 - 0.61, CL 0.65 - 0.99, CW 0.89 - 1.10, WL 2.54 - 3.62, FFL 1.70 - 2.06, FFW 0.54 - 0.68. Indices: CI 102 - 110, SI 79 - 95, CLI 111 - 137, FFI 32 - 33.

Erect and suberect setae present on clypeus, along frontal carinae and tip of scape, absent on side of head, on cheek, posterior lateral corner of head and scape, few erect and suberect setae on ventral surface of head, scattered on dorsum of mesosoma, petiole and all surfaces of gaster, absent on tibiae, except for double row on flexor surface, especially well-developed near tibial spur; appressed pubescence sparse and scattered on head, dorsum of mesosoma and dorsum of gaster, abundant on tibiae, few setae touch adjacent setae on any surface.

Head with dense, fine punctures and with scattered larger punctures, mesosoma coriaceous, gaster with fine, transverse striolae, with scattered larger punctures which bear decumbent setae.

Head and gaster black, mesosoma and legs red; head occasionally red.

Minor worker measurements (mm): HL 1.18 - 1.64, HW 1.02 - 1.44, SL 1.24 - 1.68, EL 0.36 - 0.40, CL 0.34 - 0.49, CW 0.51 - 0.76, WL 1.66 - 2.24, FFL 0.96 - 1.46, FFW 0.34 - 0.43. Indices: CI 86 - 88, SI 102 - 105, CLI 152 - 156, FFI 29 - 35.

Similar to major worker, except eyes nearly reach sides of head, head oval-shaped, scapes extending nearly ½ length past posterior lateral corner of head, pilosity, sculpture and color as in major worker.

Female measurements (mm): HL 2.70 - 2.86, HW 2.88 - 3.06, SL 2.16 - 2.22, EL 0.63 - 0.73, CL 0.89 - 0.98, CW 1.00 - 1.28, WL 4.26 - 5.02, FFL 2.16 - 2.26, FFW 0.66 - 0.74. Indices: CI 106 - 108, SI 78 - 80, CLI 113 - 131, FFI 31 - 33.

Mandible with 5 teeth; sides of head nearly straight, converging anteriorly, posterior margin convex, posterior lateral corners slightly angulate; eyes reaching to within less than 1 minimum diameter of side of head; scape extending about 1 funicular segment past posterior lateral corner of head; mesosoma massive; petiole narrow in profile, apex sharp.

Erect and suberect setae, and appressed pubescence as in major worker, sculpture as in major worker.

Color as in major worker, except mesosoma, petiole and legs dark red, or entire ant may be black.

Male measurements (mm): HL 1.58 - 1.60, HW 1.46 - 1.52, SL 1.72 - 1.76, EL 0.53 - 0.54, CL 0.43 - 0.44, CW 0.68 - 0.73, WL 3.22 - 3.50, FFL 2.14 - 2.24, FFW 0.41 - 0.51. Indices: CI 92 - 95, SI 108 - 111, CLI 159 - 166, FFI 19 - 23.

Moderate sized, black specimen, similar to most others in the genus, except anterior edge of clypeus concave.


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