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Monday, September 07, 2009

Photos of Malaysian Giant Ant Camponotus Gigas.

Camponotus gigas the giant jungle ant.
Among one of the largest ant species in the world, Camponotus gigas, is commonly found in the jungle (forest) and heavily wooded areas of Malaysia that do not see a lot of human traffic. This impressive but sensitive species mostly comes out at night (except for the minor workers) to forage and hunt for food.

Foraging activities are usually by single minor worker ants during the day. But at night the foraging frequently consist of groups of around five to ten ants (sometimes more) with both minor and major workers hunting as a pack. Camponotus nests are polydomous with several sub-nest distributed throughout its foraging range.

Here a Camponotus gigas nest in the gaint trunk of a dead and fallen tree. This is a young nest probably less than a year old. When the nest was disturbed all the majors rushed out. In young nest the workers of this large jungle ant are usually smaller than those of an older nest. In mature nest of this giant jungle ant the nest is usually disperse over a fairly wide area consisting of several sub nests.

A young nest of Camponotus gigas expanding their underground chambers.

A closer look at the nest opening.

A sub nest of a large Campnotus gigas colony.

Another sub nest of the same Campnotus gigas colony.

Another sub nest of the same Campnotus gigas colony.

 A group hunt/forage by the giant jungle ant Camponotus gigas.
Most group hunt/forage are led by a minor worker (as also is the case with this large group of 13 ants).

Above and below a night time group or pack foray found some baited food.
This second photo (above) showing two sizes of minor workers and one major worker of Camponotus gigas feeding. There is another approximately half inch (12 mm) Camponotus species worker (on the far left of the above photo) which may help to appreciate the size of this giant jungle ants. Common ants like fire ants (Solenopsis) and big headed ants (Pheidole) are between 3 to 6 mm in length.

Not commonly documented is the fact there are four polymorphic sizes of workers in Camponotus gigas, two minor workers sizes and two major worker sizes. This range of size can be found in all mature nest and is typical of this species.

Major workers of Camponotus gigas sparring (in ritualistic fight) at their territorial boundary. As nest grows and expand, expanding foraging area lead to ritualistic sparring confrontations. These usually ends peacefully with the major workers of the 'losing' colony retreating.

Major workers of Camponotus gigas sparring at their territorial boundary. In such ritualistic sparring major soldiers of the conflicting colonies size each other with antennae waving and mandibles open in a ritualistic threat display. Even if one party out numbered the other by two or more times, there is usually no casualty in such confrontation and the out numbered party will retreat.
Major workers of Camponotus gigas sparring over territory

Major workers of Camponotus gigas sparring at territorial boundary. Such sparring session may last half an hour or longer. Only major workers are involve in such ritualistic sparring.
Major workers of Camponotus gigas sparring over territory

Major workers of Camponotus gigas sparring in ritual combat at their territorial boundary.

With mandibles wide opened and antennae waving major workers of Camponotus gigas of rival nests sparring at their territorial boundary.

Major workers of Camponotus gigas sparring at their territorial boundary.

Major workers of Camponotus gigas sparring at their territorial boundary.

In the next photo are two major worker of different sizes of Camponotus gigas with a minor worker (bottom left). 

The major workers of Camponotus gigas generally comes in two sizes one (right) substantially larger than the other. Also in the photo above is the larger minor worker.

Below image of two workers (minor) of Camponotus gigas in their feeding ritual (trophallaxis).

Below a major worker of the giant jungle ant Camponotus gigas. This one is the larger of the dimorphic major workers.

Picture above and below of Camponotus gigas major workers (view from top).

Camponotus gigas major workers.

Frontal view of Camponotus gigas major worker.

Images above and below top view of a minor worker of Camponotus gigas.

Minor workers of Camponotus gigas.
There are two sizes of minor workers of Camponotus gigas. The top is the smaller minor worker. The head to head comparison shows the head of larger to be approximately 20% wider than the smaller.

Lateral view (top and bottom photo) of the minor worker of the giant jungle ant Camponotus gigas.

Top view of the Camponotus gigas worker (minor).
This is the larger of the two minor workers of Camponotus gigas. There are two sizes of minor workers and two sizes of major worker in this Camponotus species. Many Camponotus species shows dimorphism in the sizes of the minor as well as the major workers. These are not exactly fixed sizes with minor variation but over all it will be noticed that there is a tendency towards this pattern in morphism.

A smaller major worker of the giant jungle ant with a millimeter tape under for size evaluation.
These large jungle ants comes out mainly at night. Day foragers are commonly the minor workers except when they located a food source too large for them to take back to their nest alone.

In their night time forage is when these giant jungle ants will come out in groups of varying numbers.

The male alate of Camponotus gigas at slightly over 20mm is the smallest ant in the nest of this giant jungle ant. In evolutionary’ more advance ants species the male also have elbowed” antennnae.

Queen of Camponotus gigas

See also:
Camponotus genus
Camponotus auriventris
Camponotus sp (colobopsis group)
Camponotus sp(8)
Camponotus sp(10)
Camponotus suandersi

Top Node: cellular organisms 131567
SuperKingdom: Eukaryota 2759
No Rank: Opisthokonta 33154
Kingdom: Metazoa 33208
No Rank: Eumetazoa 6072
No Rank: Bilateria 33213
No Rank: Coelomata 33316
No Rank: Protostomia 33317
No Rank: Panarthropoda 88770
Phylum: Arthropoda 6656
No Rank: Mandibulata 197563
No Rank: Pancrustacea 197562
Superclass: Hexapoda 6960
Class: Insecta 50557
No Rank: Dicondylia 85512
No Rank: Pterygota 7496
Subclass: Neoptera 33340
Infraclass: Endopterygota 33392
Order: Hymenoptera 7399
No Rank: Apocrita 7400
Suborder: Aculeata 7434
Superfamily: Vespoidea 34725
Family: Formicidae 36668
Subfamily: Formicinae 7479
Tribe: Camponotini 72773
Genus:- Camponotus 13390
Species: gigas 168607

Last Updated: 2016 07 29
First Posted: 2009 09 07
© 2009 – 2016 Quah. All rights reserved.


  1. i let one giant ant to crawl on a twig. it crawl and crawl too and fro. after some times it realise it is going no where, it jump off. I let it crawl the same twig again but this time it does not crawl around, it just know it the same twig and just jump off again. i repeat, it jump off again. I think it must have some type of chemical or memory to tell it, it the same twig.

  2. Most ants and termites leave a scent trail so they know how to get back home and also if they find food they can get their nest mates to the food.

  3. My dreamant to keep! (From your Swedish fan no1)

  4. i wana ask some question about this species.
    would you give me your common use's email ? :D

    1. You can find the contact information in the Home page. The Home page can be accessed by clicking the Home tab at the top of each post page.

  5. where did you met this species ?
    would you provide a true position where can find the C.gigas :D

    1. Camponotus gigas is a common forest ant and can be found in most forested and heavily wooded areas (those that have never been totally cleared of its original forest trees) in this location (West Malaysia) as mentioned in the first paragraph.

  6. I am from kepong and have seen this giant ants before when i go for jungle tracking in FRIM. I caught a queen of the camponotus gigas ant in my house. I also notice she had removed her wings which is a sign that she has successfully mated with an male ant ant is ready to lay her eggs. I have kept ants before as pets, red fire ant to be specific and was thinking to keep it as pet but the size of does not help as it looks difficult. I have not decided on what to do with it yet but the best thing would be to let it go in a proper place.

    1. Camponotus gigas needs a huge wooded area to survive, so if you want to release it you can do so in FRIM Kepong but you need to do it soon otherwise it won't survive. Release it into an area with heavy tree cover.

  7. These ants are distributed in Singapore, Malaysia and Borneo. They are not as aggressive as fire ants or "kerengga".

    They are really creepy when you see them for the first time. I first saw them while training with the army in the jungles of Brunei somewhere in Temburong. They are easy to lure, you just need to pee at a spot. The ants will be attracted to your urine and will consume your urine. Don't ask me why, I got spooked when I was suddenly surrounded by these giant ants. At night they can be a nuisance when they forage for food. I end up having these ants crawling into my hammock. I had tied my hammock to a particular tree which they had nested.

  8. Saw a queen alate of probably this species a few days ago at my school in Penang.

    She was found in the morning, around 7 am. It rained earlier in the morning. She was hard to miss, being nearly 4 cm long. She was black, except for her gaster which looked a little orange or brown... Sad I didn't have any suitable collecting gear...


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