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
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).


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.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, 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, Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation (type locality), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Associations with other Organisms

Other Insects

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 New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • piceus. Formica picea Leach, 1825: 292 (w.q.m.) FRANCE. Combination in Camponotus: Roger, 1863b: 1; in C. (Myrmentoma): Menozzi, 1921: 32. Subspecies of lateralis: Emery, 1891b: 21; Dalla Torre, 1893: 238; Finzi, 1924a: 14. Status as species: Emery, 1925a: 67; Karavaiev, 1927c: 277; Finzi, 1930d: 318; Kutter, 1977c: 207. Senior synonym of foveolata (and its junior synonym ebeninus): Dalla Torre, 1893: 238; Ruzsky, 1905b: 255; Kutter, 1977c: 207; of atricolor (and its junior synonym rectus), foveolata, merula: Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 222; Radchenko, 2007: 37; of ebneri, nitidescens: Radchenko, 1997b: 706.
  • 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.
    • Revived from synonymy as subspecies of lateralis: Forel, 1874: 40; Forel, 1892i: 306.
    • Senior synonym of ebeninus: Forel, 1874: 40; Forel, 1879a: 94.
    • Junior synonym of merulus: Emery, 1896d: 373; Emery, 1916b: 226.
    • Junior synonym of piceus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 238; Ruzsky, 1905b: 255; Kutter, 1977c: 207; Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 222; Seifert, 2019: 28.
  • ebeninus. Camponotus ebeninus Emery, 1869b: 2, pl. 1, fig. 2 (w.m.) ITALY.
    • Junior synonym of foveolata: Forel, 1874: 40.
    • Junior synonym of piceus: Seifert, 2019: 28.
  • figaro. Camponotus (Myrmentoma) figaro Collingwood & Yarrow, 1969: 84 (w.) SPAIN.
    • [First available use of Camponotus (Myrmoturba) lateralis subsp. piceus var. figaro Emery, 1924c: 170; unavailable name.]
    • Junior synonym of piceus: Seifert, 2019: 28.
  • nitidescens. Camponotus kiesenwetteri r. nitidescens Forel, 1889: 260 (w.) GREECE. Combination in C. (Myrmentoma): Emery, 1925b: 121. Junior synonym of piceus: Radchenko, 1997b: 707.
  • rectus. Camponotus lateralis var. rectus Forel, 1892i: 306 (w.) BULGARIA. [Unresolved junior primary homonym of rectus Forel, above.] Subspecies of piceus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 238. Junior synonym of atricolor: Emery, 1896d: 373; Karavaiev, 1936: 191.
  • ebneri. Camponotus (Myrmentoma) lateralis var. ebneri Finzi, 1930c: 24 (w.) LEBANON. Junior synonym of piceus: Radchenko, 1997b: 706.
  • atricolor. Formica atricolor Nylander, 1849: 36 (w.) RUSSIA.
    • Combination in Camponotus: Roger, 1863b: 1.
    • Combination in C. (Myrmentoma): Emery, 1925a: 67; Emery, 1925b: 120.
    • Junior synonym of lateralis: Mayr, 1855: 322; Nylander, 1856b: 58; Smith, F. 1858b: 12 (first entry, see below); Mayr, 1863: 399; Roger, 1863b: 1; André, 1874: 201 (in list); Forel, 1874: 97 (in list); Emery & Forel, 1879: 448.
    • Subspecies of lateralis: Forel, 1874: 40; Forel, 1892i: 306; Forel, 1894d: 41; Emery, 1896d: 373 (in list); Ruzsky, 1902d: 7; Ruzsky, 1903b: 302; Forel, 1904b: 380; Ruzsky, 1905b: 254; Forel, 1906c: 189; Forel, 1911d: 355; Emery, 1914d: 159; Wheeler, W.M. & Mann, 1916: 174; Karavaiev, 1926e: 193; Kuznetsov-Ugamsky, 1929b: 36.
    • Subspecies of piceus: Emery, 1925a: 67; Karavaiev, 1927a: 295; Karavaiev, 1927c: 277 (in key).
    • Subspecies of merula: Novák & Sadil, 1941: 109 (in key).
    • Junior synonym of merulus: Bernard, 1967: 344.
    • Status as species: Smith, F. 1858b: 12 (second entry, see above); Arnol'di & Dlussky, 1978: 552; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987b: 283 (in key); Seifert, 2007: 155 (in key); Borowiec, L. & Salata, 2012: 472; Borowiec, L. 2014: 27.
    • Senior synonym of rectus: Emery, 1896d: 373; Emery, 1925a: 70; Karavaiev, 1936: 191.
    • Junior synonym of piceus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 238; Karavaiev, 1936: 190 (redescription); Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 222; Bolton, 1995b: 87; Radchenko, 1997b: 706; Radchenko, 2007: 37; Legakis, 2011: 28; Radchenko, 2016: 334.

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.

Seifert, 2019: 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.

Seifert, 2019: 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 (Seifert, 2019:).

Seifert, 2019: 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.



  • Atanassov, N.; Dlussky, G. M. 1992. Fauna of Bulgaria. Hymenoptera, Formicidae. Fauna Bûlg. 22: 1-310 (page 222, Senior synonym of atricolor (and its junior synonym rectus), foveolata, and merula)
  • Baugnée, J.-Y. 2004 [2003]. Camponotus piceus (Leach, 1825), fourmi nouvelle pour la faune belge decouverte dans le parc naturel Viroin-Hermeton (Hymenoptera Formicidae). Bulletin de la Societe Royale Belge d'Entomologie 139(7-12): 219-225 (page 224, record in Belgium)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 238, Race/subspecies of lateralis, Senior synonym of foveolata (and its junior synonym ebeninus))
  • Emery, C. 1891c. Exploration scientifique de la Tunisie. Zoologie. - Hyménoptères. Révision critique des fourmis de la Tunisie. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, iii + 21 pp. (page 21, Race/subspecies of lateralis)
  • Emery, C. 1925e. I Camponotus (Myrmentoma) paleartici del gruppo lateralis. Rend. Sess. R. Accad. Sci. Ist. Bologna Cl. Sci. Fis. (n.s.) 29: 62-72 (page 67, Status as species)
  • Finzi, B. 1924a. Formiche dell'isola d'Elba e Monte Argentario. Boll. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 56: 12-15 (page 14, Race/subspecies of lateralis)
  • Finzi, B. 1930d. Zoologische Forschungsreise nach den Jonischen Inseln und dem Peloponnes. XII. Teil. Die Ameisen der Jonischen Inseln. Sitzungsber. Akad. Wiss. Wien Math.-Naturwiss. Kl. Abt. I 139: 309-319 (page 318, Status as species)
  • Karavaiev, V. 1927d. The ant fauna of Ukraine. Zb. Prats Zool. Muz. 2:1-52 [= Tr. Ukr. Akad. Nauk Fiz.-Mat. Vidd. 4:247-296] (page 277, Status as species)
  • Kutter, H. 1977c. Hymenoptera, Formicidae. Insecta Helv. Fauna 6: 1-298 (page 207, Status as species, Senior synonym of foveolata (and its junior synonym ebeninus))
  • Leach, W. E. 1825. Descriptions of thirteen species of Formica and three species of Culex found in the environs of Nice. Zool. J. Lond. 2: 289-293 (page 292, worker, queen, male described)
  • Marko, B., Ionescu-Hirsch, A., Szasz-Len, A. 2009. Genus Camponotus Mayr, 1861 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Romania: distribution and identification key to the worker caste. Entomologica romanica 14: 29-41.
  • Menozzi, C. 1921. Formiche dei dintorni di Sambiase di Calabria. Boll. Lab. Zool. Gen. Agrar. R. Sc. Super. Agric. 15: 24-32 (page 32, Combination in C. (Myrmentoma))
  • Obregon, R., M. R. Shaw, J. Fernandez-Haeger, and D. Jordano. 2015. Parasitoid and ant interactions of some Iberian butterflies (Insecta: Lepidoptera). Shilap-Revista De Lepidopterologia. 43:439-454.
  • Radchenko, A.G. 1997. A review of ants of the subgenus Myrmentoma, genus Camponotus (Hymenoptera, Formicidae), from Asian Palaearctic. Entomological Review 77: 1050-1059 (translated from Zoologicheskii Zhurnal 76: 703-711).
  • Rigato, F.; Toni, I. 2011. Short notes 21. Hymenoptera, Formicidae. Pp. 873-882 in: Nardi, G.; Whitmore, D.; Bardiani, M.; Birtele, D.; Mason, F.; Spada, L.; Cerretti, P. (eds.) 2011. Biodiversity of Marganai and Montimannu (Sardinia). Research in the framework of the ICP Forests network. Conservazione Habitat Invertebrati, 5. Sommacampagna, Verona: Cierre Edizioni, 896 pp.
  • Roger, J. 1863b. Verzeichniss der Formiciden-Gattungen und Arten. Berl. Entomol. Z. 7(B Beilage: 1-65 (page 1, Combination in Camponotus)
  • Ruzsky, M. 1905b. The ants of Russia. (Formicariae Imperii Rossici). Systematics, geography and data on the biology of Russian ants. Part I. Tr. Obshch. Estestvoispyt. Imp. Kazan. Univ. 38(4-6 6: 1-800 (page 255, Senior synonym of foveolata (and its junior synonym ebeninus))
  • Seifert, B. 2019. A taxonomic revision of the members of the Camponotus lateralis species group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Europe, Asia Minor and Caucasia. Soil Organisms 91: 7-32 (DOI 10.25674/so-91-1-02).
  • Shrestha B, Tanaka E, Hyun MW, Han JG, Kim CS, Jo JW, Han SK, Oh J, Sung JM, Sung GH. 2017. Mycosphere Essay 19. Cordyceps species parasitizing hymenopteran and hemipteran insects. Mycosphere 8(9): 1424–1442 (DOI 10.5943/mycosphere/8/9/8).