Camponotus piceus

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Camponotus piceus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Camponotini
Genus: Camponotus
Subgenus: Myrmentoma
Species group: lateralis
Species: C. piceus
Binomial name
Camponotus piceus
(Leach, 1825)

Camponotus piceus casent0173136 profile 1.jpg

Camponotus piceus casent0173136 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


This species is mainly distributed in southern and central Europe and in the southern part of eastern Europe, but it is also present in north-west Africa, Asia Minor, Lebanon, Iran, the Caucasus, and northern Kazakshtan (Czechowski et al. 2002). It is a xerothermophilous species living mostly in open, dry grasslands, and is ground-nesting. Workers are highly polymorphic (Marko et al., 2009; Rigato & Toni, 2011). In Greece it has been collected mostly from shrubs on mountain pastures and along roadsides, also on shrubs along borders of deciduous, mixed and fir forests (Borowiec & Salata, 2021).


A member of the Camponotus lateralis species group. Seifert, 2019: The character combinations to identify this species can be derived from the key (also see Table 3 and Figures 14 and 15 from this study) and the images on CASENT0173136 (minor worker), CASENT0249995 (minor), CASENT09115597 (major, lectotype C. foveolata).

For species delimitation by exploratory and hypothesis-driven data analyses see also Camponotus candiotes and Camponotus atricolor.

Keys including this Species


Marko et al. (2009) - It is present throughout Romania. The occurrence of C. piceus sp. 2 (Seifert 2007) can also be expected, based on preliminary distribution data.

Seifert, 2019: From Iberia to Balkans, south Central Europe north to 51.3°N. It is not known so far from Asia Minor and is apparently a western parapatric sibling species of Camponotus candiotes. There is broad range overlap with Camponotus atricolor in E Central Europe and the Balkans.

This is a common species, known from all Greek provinces (Borowiec et al., 2022).

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 51.313° to 34.916667°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, France (type locality), Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iberian Peninsula, Iran, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, North Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation (type locality), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, 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.


Flight Period

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


Association with Other Organisms

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Other Insects

  • This species is a mutualist for the aphid Aphis brotericola (a trophobiont) (Özdemir et al., 2008; Saddiqui et al., 2019).
  • This species is a mutualist for the aphid Aphis chloris (a trophobiont) (Özdemir et al., 2008; Saddiqui et al., 2019).
  • This species is a mutualist for the aphid Aphis craccivora (a trophobiont) (Özdemir et al., 2008; Saddiqui et al., 2019).
  • This species is a mutualist for the aphid Aphis euphorbiae (a trophobiont) (Özdemir et al., 2008; Saddiqui et al., 2019).
  • This species is a mutualist for the aphid Aphis fabae (a trophobiont) (Özdemir et al., 2008; Saddiqui et al., 2019).
  • This species is a mutualist for the aphid Aphis salviae (a trophobiont) (Özdemir et al., 2008; Saddiqui et al., 2019).
  • This species is a mutualist for the aphid Hyadaphis hofmanni (a trophobiont) (Özdemir et al., 2008; Saddiqui et al., 2019).
  • This species is a mutualist for the aphid Staegeriella necopinata (a trophobiont) (Özdemir et al., 2008; Saddiqui et al., 2019).
  • This ant has been associated with the butterfly Glaucopsyche alexis (Obregon et al. 2015).


This species is a host for the fungus Ophiocordyceps myrmecophila (a pathogen) (Shrestha et al., 2017).



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

  • piceus. Formica picea Leach, 1825: 292 (w.q.m.) FRANCE.
    • Combination in Camponotus: Roger, 1863b: 1;
    • combination in C. (Myrmentoma): Menozzi, 1921: 32.
    • [Misspelled as picaea by Ruzsky, 1905b: 255.]
    • Junior synonym of lateralis: Roger, 1859: 231; Mayr, 1863: 399; Roger, 1863b: 1; Forel, 1874: 96 (in list); Emery & Forel, 1879: 448.
    • Subspecies of lateralis: Emery, 1891b: 21; Dalla Torre, 1893: 238; Ruzsky, 1905b: 255; Menozzi, 1921: 32; Menozzi, 1922b: 331; Soudek, 1922: 91; Finzi, 1923: 4; Finzi, 1924a: 14; Emery, 1924c: 170; Emery, 1925b: 120; Kuznetsov-Ugamsky, 1929b: 36; Ceballos, 1956: 313; Pisarski, 1961a: 174.
    • Status as species: Emery, 1925a: 67; Santschi, 1926f: 288; Finzi, 1927b: 52 (in key); Karavaiev, 1927a: 295; Karavaiev, 1927c: 277 (in key); Finzi, 1930d: 318; Santschi, 1931a: 12; Finzi, 1933: 165; Grandi, 1935: 102; Zimmermann, 1935: 58; Karavaiev, 1936: 190; Röszler, 1942a: 52; Röszler, 1951: 90; Consani & Zangheri, 1952: 43; Baroni Urbani, 1964b: 58; Baroni Urbani, 1964c: 162; Kutter, 1968a: 60; Cagniant, 1970c: 37; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 193; Collingwood, 1971: 164; Baroni Urbani, 1974: 237; Pisarski, 1975: 32; Hamann & Klemm, 1976: 677; Kutter, 1977c: 207; Collingwood, 1978: 91 (in key); Agosti & Collingwood, 1987a: 59; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987b: 283 (in key); Le Moli & Rosi, 1991: 35; Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 222; Arakelian, 1994: 87; Bolton, 1995b: 117; Poldi, et al. 1995: 7; Radchenko, 1996b: 1198 (in key); Espadaler, 1997b: 27; Radchenko, 1997b: 706; Collingwood & Prince, 1998: 24 (in key); Gallé, et al. 1998: 216; Czechowski, et al. 2002: 99; Karaman, M.G. & Karaman, 2003: 47; Csösz, & Markó, 2005: 229; Karaman, G.S. & Karaman, 2005: 58; Bračko, 2006: 146; Markó, Sipos, et al. 2006: 66; Petrov, 2006: 71, 108 (in key); Bračko, 2007: 19; Radchenko, 2007: 37; Seifert, 2007: 270; Werner & Wiezik, 2007: 143; Zryanin & Zryanina, 2007: 233; Gratiashvili & Barjadze, 2008: 131; Casevitz-Weulersse & Galkowsky, 2009: 480; Lapeva-Gjonova, et al. 2010: 45; Boer, 2010: 20; Csösz, et al. 2011: 58; Karaman, C. et al. 2011: 189; Karaman, M.G. 2011b: 72; Legakis, 2011: 32; Ran & Zhou, 2011: 69; Borowiec, L. & Salata, 2012: 480; Czechowski, et al. 2012: 249; Guénard & Dunn, 2012: 29; Kiran & Karaman, 2012: 7; Nezhad, et al. 2012: 66; Karaman, C. & Aktaç, 2013: 50 (in key); Borowiec, L. 2014: 39; Bračko, et al. 2014: 18; Lebas, et al. 2016: 140; Radchenko, 2016: 334; Seifert, 2018: 264; Seifert, 2019b: 25.
    • Senior synonym of ebeninus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 238; Ruzsky, 1905b: 255; Soudek, 1922: 91; Emery, 1925a: 70; Emery, 1925b: 120; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 194; Kutter, 1977c: 207; Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 222; Bolton, 1995b: 117; Radchenko, 1997b: 706; Czechowski, et al. 2002: 99; Radchenko, 2016: 334; Salata & Borowiec, 2018c: 43; Seifert, 2019b: 28.
    • Senior synonym of figaro: Seifert, 2019b: 28.
    • Senior synonym of foveolata: Dalla Torre, 1893: 238; Ruzsky, 1905b: 255; Soudek, 1922: 91; Emery, 1925a: 70; Emery, 1925b: 120; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 194; Kutter, 1977c: 207; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987a: 58; Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 222; Bolton, 1995b: 117; Radchenko, 1997b: 706; Czechowski, et al. 2002: 99; Radchenko, 2007: 37; Legakis, 2011: 32; Kiran & Karaman, 2012: 7; Radchenko, 2016: 334; Seifert, 2019b: 28.
    • Material of the unavailable name dusmeti referred here by Seifert, 2019b: 28.
  • ebeninus. Camponotus ebeninus Emery, 1869b: 2, pl. 1, fig. 2 (w.m.) ITALY.
    • [Misspelled as eboninus by Soudek, 1922: 91.]
    • Junior synonym of merula: Emery, 1896d: 373; Ruzsky, 1905b: 255; Emery, 1916b: 226.
    • Junior synonym of foveolata: Forel, 1874: 40; Forel, 1879a: 94 (in text); Emery & Forel, 1879: 449; André, 1882a: 151; Emery, 1925a: 70.
    • Junior synonym of piceus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 238; Ruzsky, 1905b: 255; Soudek, 1922: 91; Emery, 1925a: 70; Emery, 1925b: 120; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 194; Kutter, 1977c: 207; Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 222; Bolton, 1995b: 117; Radchenko, 1997b: 706; Czechowski, et al. 2002: 99; Radchenko, 2016: 334; Seifert, 2019b: 28.
  • figaro. Camponotus (Myrmentoma) figaro Collingwood & Yarrow, 1969: 84.
    • [First available use of Camponotus (Myrmoturba) lateralis subsp. piceus var. figaro Emery, 1924c: 170 (w.) SPAIN; unavailable (infrasubspecific) name.]
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Emery, 1925a: 68; Menozzi, 1927b: 92; Santschi, 1932g: 5.
    • Status as species: Collingwood, 1978: 91 (in key); Bolton, 1995b: 99; Collingwood & Prince, 1998: 24 (in key); Borowiec, L. 2014: 31; Lebas, et al. 2016: 138.
    • Junior synonym of piceus: Seifert, 2019b: 28.
  • foveolata. Formica foveolata Mayr, 1853c: 277 (w.q.m.) HUNGARY.
    • Combination in Camponotus: Roger, 1863b: 1;
    • combination in C. (Orthonotomyrmex): Forel, 1915d: 72.
    • Junior synonym of lateralis: Mayr, 1855: 322; Nylander, 1856b: 58; Smith, F. 1858b: 12; Mayr, 1863: 399; Roger, 1863b: 1; Dours, 1873: 164; André, 1874: 201 (in list); Forel, 1874: 96 (in list).
    • Subspecies of lateralis: Forel, 1874: 40; Emery, 1878b: 46; Emery & Forel, 1879: 449; André, 1882a: 151 (in key); Forel, 1886e: clxvii; Forel, 1892i: 306; Forel, 1904f: 425; Forel, 1905b: 183; Forel, 1909c: 106; Forel, 1915d: 72 (in key); Stitz, 1917: 351.
    • Junior synonym of merula: Emery, 1896d: 373; Ruzsky, 1905b: 255 Emery, 1916b: 226.
    • Junior synonym of piceus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 238; Ruzsky, 1905b: 255; Soudek, 1922: 91; Emery, 1925a: 70; Emery, 1925b: 120; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 194; Kutter, 1977c: 207; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987a: 58; Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 222; Bolton, 1995b: 100; Radchenko, 1997b: 706; Czechowski, et al. 2002: 99; Radchenko, 2007: 37; Legakis, 2011: 32; Kiran & Karaman, 2012: 7; Radchenko, 2016: 334; Seifert, 2019b: 28.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.



Borowiec and Salata (2022) - Moderately large, polymorphic; minor worker: HL: 0.917-1.012 (mean 0.956); HW: 0.762-0.841 (mean 0.794); SL: 0.960-1.000 (mean 0.980); EL: 0.235-0.243 (mean 0.240); ML: 1.35-1.49; MW: 0.70-0.76. Color. Body completely black except yellowish explanate anterior margin of pronotum, occasionally pronotum laterally with reddish brown spot of diffused borders (in Greek populations only 2% of examined specimens have spotted pronotum); usually gena apically with small yellowish to reddish spot, gaster sometimes brown; antennal scapus yellow, occasionally slightly infuscate in the widest apical part, funicle from uniformly yellow to mostly infuscate, usually basal 1-3 segments yellowish then subsequent segments gradually darker, sometimes whole scapus brown to dark brown; coxa brown to black, trochanters partly brown partly yellowish, femora mostly brown to almost black except yellowish apices, in the palest specimens apical 1/3 of femora yellowish, in the darkest specimens almost whole femora brown to almost black, tibiae from yellow to yellowish brown, tarsi yellow, in the darkest forms tibiae mostly to almost completely brown. Head. Stout, 1.1-1.3 times longer than wide, sides in front of eyes almost straight and slightly converging anterad, behind eyes regularly rounded, posterior margin convex. Clypeus trapezoidal, with anterior margin straight to slightly convex, simple or slightly crenulate, without median emargination, posterior margin in the middle emarginate by frontal triangle, whole surface with diffused microreticulation, appears shiny, covered with short and sparse appressed to decumbent hairs, anterior margin with a row of 6-8 long setae centrally and 4-8 short setae on sides, whole Clypeus with several moderately long erected setae grouping on sides and base of clypeus. Head diffusely to distinctly microsculptured, frontal area microreticulate, occipital and temporal area mostly with transverse or circular striation, surface with short and sparse appressed pubescence, appears shiny, gena, frontal and interantennal area and anterior part of occipitum with short to long erected setae, only occipital and temporal areas without setae, ventral side of head with 6-12 moderately long to long erected setae. Scape moderately elongate, 1.1-1.3 times as long as width of head, at apex only slightly wider than in base, basal part with slightly marked horizontal extension, surface diffusely to distinctly microreticulate, shiny, with short and sparse appressed pubescence, without decumbent hairs or erected setae. Funicular segments elongate, thin, first segment 2.24 times as long as wide and 1.8-1.9 times as long as second segment, third segment distinctly longer than second, the rest of funicular segments distinctly longer than broad. Eyes moderately big, almost round, 0.25 length of head. Mandibles stout, diffusely microreticulate, surface shiny. Mesosoma. Moderately elongate, 1.9-2.0 times as long as wide, dorsally and laterally distinctly sculptured tending to form transverse, longitudinal, oblique and concentric striation, on sides of pronotum microstriation often diffused, whole surface shiny. In lateral view dorsum with distinct mesonotal groove, propodeum with flat dorsum which is 1.4-1.5 times as long as wide, posterior margin truncate, in lateral view posterior face and dorsum form distinct angle posterior face not excavate. Surface of mesosoma with short and scarce depressed to decumbent hairs, pronotum posterolaterally with 2-4 long erected setae, mesonotum with 10-16 moderately long to long erected setae, propodeum on the whole surface with 12-22 short to moderately long erected setae; the number of erected setae increases with body length, the longest setae with length to 0.225. Waist and gaster. Petiolar scale thick, broad in anterior view, PI = 1.9- 2.0, with very convex anterior and flat posterior face, apex rounded; anterior and posterior surface transversely striate, without pubescence or with few very short and very scarce appressed hairs, apical crest with 4-8 very long erected setae. Gaster shorter than mesosoma, tergites with fine transverse microstriation, surface shiny, covered with moderately long but scarce appressed hairs; each tergite with row of, very long erected setae across middle and close to posterior margin, sometimes with few additional erected setae between main rows. Legs. Elongate hind femora shorter than mesosoma, surface of legs covered with short to moderately long and sparse appressed hairs, inner margin of hind tibiae with row of 2-4 thorns. Ventral surface of fore femora with 3-6 long erected setae.

Major worker: Large, HL: 1.720-1.760 (mean 1.741); HW: 1.690-1.756 (mean 1.712); SL: 1.309-1.389 (mean 1.341); EL: 0.338-0.383 (mean 0.360); ML: 2.13-2.27; MW: 1.18- 1.20. Body color and sculpture as in minor workers but antennae and legs usually darker , brown to dark brown and apex of tibiae brown, tarsi often as dark colored as tibiae. Head stouter, approximately as long as wide, sides of head softly convex, posterior margin straight. Anterior margin of clypeus slightly serrulate, in the middle with deep triangular emargination. Scapus shorter, 0.8 times as long as width of head. Eyes relatively smaller, 0.21 times as long of head. Setation on head and whole dorsum more numerous than in minor workers, occipital and temporal part of head often with few erected setae, petiolar crest with 8-10 very long setae. Propodeal flat dorsum shorter, approximately 1.2 times as long as wide. Ventral posterior surface of fore femora with 6-10 long erected setae.

Type Material

Camponotus ebeninus. According to a message of Maria Tavano of 16 October 2013 there are no type specimens in the Emery collection of Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa (Seifert, 2019).

Camponotus figaro: Investigated were two syntype workers labeled ‘Cordoba 29-XII-922’, ‘SYNTYPUS Camponotus lateralis piceus var. figaro Emery, 1924’, ‘ANTWEB CASENT 0905390’ from Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa (Seifert, 2019).

Camponotus foveolata. This taxon has been described by Mayr as Formica foveolata from Blocksberg near Ofen in Hungary, from Imola in Italy and from Rauhkogel near Mödling in Austria. Herewith, a lectotype is designated in a worker labeled ‘Imola G.Mayr’, ‘z. G.Mayr.Bd.III. p.101-277’, ‘Form. foveolata det. G.Mayr’,‘Type’ and ‘Lectotype Formica foveolata Mayr, 1853 des. B.Seifert 2012’. One paralectotype male is labeled ‘Imola G. Mayr’, ‘z. G. Mayr. Bd.III. p.101-277’, ‘Form. foveolata det. G. Mayr’ and ‘Paralectotype Formica foveolata Mayr, 1853 des. B.Seifert 2012’. Both specimens are stored in Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna (Seifert, 2019:).

Camponotus picea: This taxon has been described from Nice in southern France. The full text of the original description is ‘Capite, antennis, thorace, abdomine pedibusque piceis, glaberimis, nitentibus; geniculis tarsisque ferrugineis. Corporis longitudo. M 5 mm, g 10 mm, w 5 mm.’ Figures were not given and it seems that no later revising taxonomist has seen original material of Leach and that types do not exist. To secure the identity of this taxon, I designate herewith a neotype of C. piceus in a sample of two workers from near Nice, stored in Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz and labeled ‘FRA: 43.799°N, 7.488°N, 90 m / Menton – 2.8 km N / leg. C. Galkowski 2011.08.10’ and ‘Neotype (top) / Camponotus piceus (Leach 1825) / des. B. Seifert 2018’. (Seifert, 2019).

Taxonomic Notes

Seifert, 2019: Emery’s original description of Camponotus ebeninus, that was collected in the vicinity of Naples, indicates a black ant with a mesosomal shape and sculpture similar to Camponotus piceus. As other blackish species are not known so far from Italy and because nobody is currently able to present counter-evidence, I synonymize it with C. piceus.

Workers of Camponotus figaro with completely reddish pronotum (see data in section 4.3 on the low taxonomic value of color characters) are allocated to the C. piceus cluster with both p = 1.0000 if run as wild-card in a 5-class LDA considering the five black species of the group and they are in any structural character consistent with this species.

The lectotype worker of C. foveolata is allocated to the C. piceus cluster with p = 0.9992 if run as wild-card in a 5-class LDA considering the five black species of the group.

As type material for C. piceus is unavailable, it appears difficult to understand how revisers could reasonably allocate such a crude description to a certain species. There are several possible candidates for entirely blackish ants of this size from the environs of Nice with a glabrous shining surface, and apparently having no spines or dents on mesosoma (if so, Leach should have mentioned it as he did in other species descriptions). A Formica species, namely Formica gagates or Formica fusca, may be excluded because males of this subgenus do not have a clearly smaller body length than gynes. The jet black Lasius fuliginosus can be excluded too because virgin gynes do not reach 10 mm. Blackish species related to Lasius niger might roughly match the size distribution over the three castes, but ferruginous ‘knees’ (i.e., the femoratibial joint) contrasting the blackish color of femora and tibiae do not occur here as it is with glabrous, shining and jet black surfaces. It is also not very likely that Formica picea could refer to one of the two species of Proformica occurring in the vicinity of Nice (Galkowski et al. 2017) as these do not seem to have big differences in total body length between males and gynes and are more medium to dark brown in overall coloration and not glabrous. Hence, this argumentation finally points to a black species of the Camponotus lateralis group – at least there is no character in Leach’s description that is contradictory to this view. As the geographic distribution of the other blackish species of the group, namely Camponotus atricolor, Camponotus candiotes and Camponotus heidrunvogtae, is much more eastern, there is sufficient reason to maintain the name allocation as it was done by other myrmecologists in the past. To settle this point, I designate herewith a neotype of C. piceus. The neotype and another sample from the same collection are allocated to C. piceus with a mean posterior probability of p = 0.9998 if run as wild-card in a 5-class LDA considering the five black species of the group given in Tab. 3.


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