Camponotus universitatis

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Camponotus universitatis
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Camponotini
Genus: Camponotus
Species: C. universitatis
Binomial name
Camponotus universitatis
Forel, 1890

Camponotus universitatis casent0910200 p 1 high.jpg

Camponotus universitatis casent0910200 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

This is a social parasite of Camponotus aethiops and Camponotus pilicornis (Karaman, 2012); thus, its distribution should follow that of its hosts. At present, it is known from scattered localities of southern Europe, especially from Spain, France and Italy. This is the first record from Sardinia (Rigato & Toni, 2011).

At a Glance • Inquiline  




Forel (1890) described C. universitatis worker from France, but its queen and male were first described from the Iberian Peninsula by Tinaut et al. (1992). Host species for C. universitatis are C. aethiops Latreille, 1798 and C. pilicornis Roger, 1859 (Espadaler, 1981; Tinaut et al., 1992). C. universitatis is a rare ant species and has only been recorded in a few studies from Southern Europe: France (Forel, 1890; Espadaler, 1981); Switzerland (Forel, 1904; Kutter, 1936); Italy (Wurmli, 1969); Albania (Andoni, 1977) and Spain (Tinaut et al., 1992). According to Radchenko (2007), C. universitatis is distributed only in Spain, France, Italy and Switzerland but he ignored a record from Albania of Andoni (1977). More recently, Lapeva-Gjonova and Kıran (2012) recorded this species from Southeast Bulgaria in the Strandzha (Istranca) Mountain region. Despite this recent record from Bulgaria and the fact that 35 other parasitic ant species (17 temporary and 18 permanent social parasitic ants) are known from Turkey (Kıran and Aktac¸, 2007), C. universitatis has not yet been recorded from Turkey. (Karaman, 2012.)

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 46.094167° to 36.974°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Albania, Bulgaria, France (type locality), Germany, Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey.

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.


Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.



This species is an inquiline in the nests of Camponotus aethiops and Camponotus pilicornis, a permanent parasite without slavery (Tinaut et al., 1992; Guillem et al., 2014). Currently Camponotus universitatis and Camponotus ruseni (Karaman, 2012) are the only known Camponotus social parasites, despite this genus containing approx. 1,500 species.

Guillem et al., 2014 - Camponotus universitatis were collected from the Catalan Pyrenees in June 2011 when four colonies were found with their respective hosts Camponotus aethiops. Parasitized colonies consisted of C. universitatis workers and female alates (young winged queens). All colonies of Camponotus were found in a small (10 m × 10 m) area on a dry slope that was stony and open with a sparse Mediterranean flora.

Guillem et al. (2014) examined cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) profiles between this parasite and its hosts. They found that the parasitic species had CHC profiles that were indistinguishable from that of their hosts, even when the parasite is using more than one host species. The level of chemical mimicry even extended to the more subtle between-colony differences in profiles. In all cases the profiles of un-parasitized colonies were similar to those that were parasitized indicating that it is the parasites that have adjusted their profile to match that of their host and not vice versa. This explains why these social parasites are fully integrated members of each colony and are treated as nest-mates.

It should be noted that in some species, for example Harpagoxenus sublaevis (Winter and Buschinger, 1986), raiding workers are frequently killed or driven off when trying to raid or invade new host colonies, since they are carrying their own host colony odour, which is likely to be different from that of the one they are raiding. This is why parasites continue to use a wide range of other chemical and morphological adaptations associated with their parasitic lifestyle. These include a thickened cuticle and production of appeasement or propaganda compounds (e.g. Allies et al., 1986; Lloyd et al., 1986; Ollett et al., 1987; D'Ettorre et al., 2000). These tactics allow the parasite time to make the necessary adjustments to its profile. Acquiring a host profile may be possible in just a few hours (R. Kather, pers. comm., cited in Guillem et al. (2014)).

Association with Other Organisms


  • This species is a host for the fungus Laboulbenia camponoti (a pathogen) (Espadaler & Santamaria, 2012).



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

  • universitatis. Camponotus universitatis Forel, 1890c: 218 (w.) FRANCE.
    • Tinaut, Espadaler & Jiménez, 1992: 234 (q.m.).
    • Combination in C. (Myrmoturba): Forel, 1914a: 267;
    • combination in C. (Tanaemyrmex): Emery, 1925b: 98.
    • Status as species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 255; Emery, 1896d: 373 (in list); Forel, 1904c: 52; Forel, 1915d: 70 (in key); Bondroit, 1918: 73; Emery, 1925b: 98; Bernard, 1967: 336 (redescription); Kutter, 1968a: 49; Kutter, 1968b: 206; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 187; Baroni Urbani, 1971d: 1048; Kutter, 1977c: 206; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987a: 59; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987b: 284 (in key); Tinaut, Espadaler & Jiménez, 1992: 234; Bolton, 1995b: 128; Poldi, et al. 1995: 7; Espadaler, 1997b: 27; Petrov, 2006: 109 (in key); Casevitz-Weulersse & Galkowsky, 2009: 480; Borowiec, L. 2014: 44; Lebas, et al. 2016: 146; Seifert, 2018: 266.



References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Andoni V. 1977. Kontribut mbi Himenopteret e familjes Formicidae te vendit tone. Buletini I Shkencave te Natyres 31(2): 93-101.
  • AntArea. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at
  • Antarea (Personal Communication - Rumsais Blatrix- 27 April 2018)
  • Antarea (at on June 11th 2017)
  • Bernard F. 1967. Faune de l'Europe et du Bassin Méditerranéen. 3. Les fourmis (Hymenoptera Formicidae) d'Europe occidentale et septentrionale. Paris: Masson, 411 pp.
  • Blatrix R., C. Lebas, C. Galkowski, P. Wegnez, P. Pimenta, and D. Morichon. 2016. Vegetation cover and elevation drive diversity and composition of ant communities (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in a Mediterranean ecosystem. – Myrmecological News 22: 119-127.
  • Blatrix R., P. Wednez, T. Colin, and C. Galkowski. 2017. Neuf nouvelles espèces de fourmis pour la Corse (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Revue de l’Association Roussillonnaise d’Entomologie 26(2): 60-64.
  • Borowiec L. 2014. Catalogue of ants of Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and adjacent regions (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Genus (Wroclaw) 25(1-2): 1-340.
  • Casevitz-Weulersse J., and C. Galkowski. 2009. Liste actualisee des Fourmis de France (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Bull. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 114: 475-510.
  • Espadaler, X., X. Roig, and K. Gómez. "Cuatro nuevas citas de hormigas (Hymenopera, Formicidae) y actualización del listado para Cataluña (Península Ibérica)." Boletín de la Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa 40 (2007): 313-316.
  • Espadaler, X.. "Camponotus universitatis Forel, 1890, retrouvé en France." Vie et Milieu 31 (1983): 341-342.
  • Forel A. 1904. Miscellanea myrmécologiques. Rev. Suisse Zool. 12: 1-52.
  • Forel, A.. "Miscellanea myrmécologiques." Revue Suisse de Zoologie 12 (1904): 1-52.
  • Galkowski C. 2008. Quelques fourmis nouvelles ou intéressantes pour la faune de France (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Bulletin de la Société Linnéenne de Bordeaux, 143, N.S. 36, 4 : 423-433.
  • Garcia Garcia F., and A. D. Cuesta-Esgura. 2017. First catalogue of the ants of Burgos province, Spain (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Boletín de la Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa 60: 245–258.
  • Karaman C., K. Kiran, V. Aksoy, and Y. Camlitepe. 2013. First record of the south European rare parasitic ant species Camponotus universitatis Forel (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) in Asia. 5th Central European Workshop of Myrmecology at Innsbruck, Austria.
  • Lebas C., C. Galkowski, P. Wegnez, X. Espadaler, and R. Blatrix. 2015. The exceptional diversity of ants on mount Coronat (Pyrénées-Orientales), and Temnothorax gredosi(Hymenoptera, Formicidae) new to France. R.A.R.E., T. XXIV (1): 24 – 33
  • Rigato S., and I. Toni. 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.
  • Tausan I., and A. Lapeva-Gjonova. 2017. Camponotus samius Forel, 1889 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) – at the north edge of its European distribution. North-Western Journal of Zoology: e177201
  • Tinaut A. 2016. Ants of the Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Mountains Natural Park (Andalusia, Spain) (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Boln. Asoc. esp. Ent., 40 (1-2): 125-159.