Every Ant Tells a Story - And Scientists Explain Their Stories Here
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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Genus: Camponotus

This is one of the largest, most common and widespread groups of ants in the world and can be found in essentially all habitats and areas where ants occur. Nests are found in a wide range of sites including in soil with or without coverings, between rocks, in wood, among the roots of plants and in twigs on standing shrubs or trees. Some species will also nest in close association with other ants such as Iridomyrmex in Australia. Foraging times vary among species, with some found only during the day and others found only at night while others will forage at all times. Some of the nocturnal species will show little or no evidence of their presence during the day, but once night arrives, they can be found in large numbers on the ground or on low vegetation. They are general scavengers and predators and will collect nectar and plant secretions and tend Hemiptera for honeydew. They are also known to harbour Hemiptera in there nests during the day, protecting them from predators. At night workers carry their guests into trees and shrubs and allow them to feed, thus producing honeydew which is collected by the ants. In a number of arid zone species selected workers act as living storage vessels. These special workers, called repletes, include the well known honey-pot ants. They receive fluids from returning foragers, expanding their gasters until they are many times larger than normal. They become so swollen that leaving the nest is impossible and they remain inside, hanging from the ceiling of the nest chambers. Other species of Camponotus are closely associated with butterflies, the caterpillars of some species being found only in the nests of these ants.


The area above the hind leg is smooth and lacks a small opening (the metapleural gland opening, although this opening is present in one Australian species found on Cape York and one Indonesian species). The mesosoma and petiole lack spines or teeth on their upper surfaces. The mandibles with at most 8 teeth. The scale of the petiole is usually upright and with an angular or rounded top, but when low the forward and top faces are always separated by a distinct angle. The upper plate of the first segment of the gaster (first gastral tergite) covers less than one-half the total length of the gaster.

Camponotus is one of the largest and most diverse groups of ants in the world. Species vary greatly in size and shape, ranging from about 2.5mm to 14mm in overall length. They are also polymorphic and show considerable size variation within single species. Species of Camponotus can be separated from other genera by the lack of a small opening above the hind legs, the presence of 5 to 8 teeth on the mandibles, the short first upper segment of the gaster and the lack of teeth or spines on the upper surfaces of the mesosoma and petiole. Two species differs from all other species of Camponotus in that it has a metapleural gland with an opening above the hind leg. This species can be recognised by its overall similarity to other species in the genus, especially the high, rounded shape of the mesosoma in side view, the distinct gap between the rear margin of the clypeus and the antennal sockets, and the presence of very long, golden-coloured hairs on the top of the mesosoma and gaster.

Distribution and Habitats

Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps

Australian distribution Check distribution from AntMaps.

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Check specimen data from AntWeb

Regional Species Lists

Keys to Species