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Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Camponotus Genus.

Camponotus is a very large genus of wood ants commonly called carpenter ants. Of these, Camponotus gigas is the largest in body size. This genus varies in size, color and even shapes. Generally Camponotus are sugar loving ants and a fairly large percentage of their diet consist of of honeydew (not the fruit but a sticky sugary secretion by sap sucking parasites of plants) from sap sucking plant parasites such as aphids, mealy bugs and scale insects.

The Camponotus genus is so abundance that just in one location after a heavy spell of rain one can collect several species of Camponotus alates.

The most common distinguishing feature of this genus is the lack of spines (or thorns) on the thorax and/or petiole. The typical Camponotus is polymorphic with minor and major worker castes. There a few directions in the morphological expression. The most common are the dimorphic and quad-morphic, the later appears to be more common for those Camponotus species found in this location. Trimorphic species are rarer and only found in forested area. Frequently in species that are quadmorphic the minor workers have an ‘elongated face’ (or are ‘horse faced’). In dimorphic and trimorphic species the heads of the minor workers tend to be more regular (not as elongated).

The Colobopsis group (or rather sub group) of Camponotus are arboreal species almost all having their nest inside living trees where they 'chiseled' their way into the core of the trunk of branchlets. Those that I have come across are mostly either dimorphic or trimorphic.

Quadmorphic species.

Minor and major workers of Camponotus gigas the largest of the Camponotus genus.

Camponotus species with minor and major workers
A common Camponotus species Camponotus irritans with minor and major workers found in urban and suburban areas. While the number of Camponotus species is fairly large in forest area, this number is significantly reduce in rural and agricultural area until in urban and semi urban areas less than a hand full of species are found. I have so far only encounter 8 species common throughout this location. Among these are the very common Camponotus parius, Camponotus irritans (includes a few subspecies) and a small species (photo below this) denoted as sp(02) also with subspecies.

  This small size species is one of the most common throughout this location found in both urban and rural locale. When the workers sense danger they raise up their gaster imitating the very common Crematogaster ants.

Trimorphic species.

Trimorphic species are less common in Camponotus. In this species of the Colobopsis group, the workers consist of a minor, a median and a major worker caste. Atypical of the Camponotus genus, in some species of the Colobopsis group the major worker with an enhanced truncated head are not deployed to fend off other ants but instead the minor and median workers take on this role.

Dimorphic species.

Among one of the larger dimorphic species. See more of this species in the post Camponotus sp(10).

The dimorphic Camponotus parius.

Elongated Head

The elongated head of  a horse-faced minor worker of a Camponotus species.

In this species, the minor workers heads are especially thin with the posterior end of the head narrowing down to the diameter of the neck. This species unexpectedly is dimorphic

Colobopsis subgenus of the Camponotini tribe 
Truncatus’ group of Camponotus have a somewhat wedge shaped head. In some species this is very pronounced while in others it is only marginally expressed. In many case this slight wedge shape front part of the head immediately before and fused with the mandibles present some sort of square plug with the adjoining mandibles. These species typically are arboreal and are true carpenters digging out a nest in tree branches and trunks. The ‘truncated’ front of the head serves to block the entrance into the nest. In most cases this morphological expression is absent in the minor workers with only the queen and the major (and also to some extend the median) workers appearing to have this ‘truncated’ head.

The ‘truncated’ front of the head of the gyne of the Colobopsis subgenus. Fine hairs in front of the flattened head allows this ant to detect movement outside of its nest opening when she uses her head as a door to block out would be predators or attackers.

The ‘truncated’ front of the head of the major worker of the Colobopsis subgenus.

The ‘truncated’ front of the head of the major worker of the Colobopsis subgenus.

The ‘truncated’ front of the head of the major worker of the Colobopsis subgenus.

A species of  the ‘Colobopsis subgenus of Camponotus. Photo below shows the the major worker with the ‘truncated’ flattened front part of the head.
 The major workers and a minor worker of this Colobopsis subgenus of Camponotus. In this tri-morphic species the minor do not exhibit this flattened ‘truncated’head.

Below the major, median and minor worker of  a Colobopsis subgenus of Camponotini tribe. Both the median and minor workers do not have this ‘truncatied’ expression. 

A median worker from a species of the Colobopsis subgenus of Camponotus ants. This is another trimorphc species.
A major worker See a page on this species here.

Major worker and queen of another small species, Camponotus bedoti (Colobopsis group). 

Camponotus sp(02).
A very common small (4 to 8 millimeters long workers) species that I call a beginner's ant, ideal for the new hobbyist as they are easy to keep and easy to feed, and they neither bite nor sting.
A new nest with the first brood of workers.

The same nest a few months later showing the full quad-morphic morphology of the worker caste.
The 7 millimeters long major worker of this small Camponotus species.

Camponotus sp(03)
Major worker of a small Camponotus species. This species is about the same size as the one above and looks very similar but is semi arboreal.
Minor worker of a small Camponotus species.
Minor and major worker of a small Camponotus species.

 Minor and major worker of a small Camponotus species.

Camponotus Sp(01).
A nest of a medium size (with workers measuring 6 to 12 millimeters long) common Camponotus species, Camponotus irritans. There are several sub species in the Camponotus irritans group, most of which are around the same size.

Another medium size species.

Camponotus gilviceps

This is a quadmorphic species.

Camponotus sp(24).

Camponotus arrogans group

 This species I have provisionally tagged as Camponotus arrogans (or C arrogans my0#) because it closely matches Camponotus (tanaemyrmex) arrogans documented in The C tanaemyrmex subgenus have several species most of which do not resembles the basic similarity of all my several encounters of this (arrogans) species group, all except Canponotus (tanaemurmex) arrogans (which is collected in Sabah, M'sia). The antbase species is significantly smaller than the three (possibly four) different species of this group that I have encountered with their largest major workers varying in size from 9 mm to 11 mm). All samples are characterized by four morphological expression in the worker caste and by naked pupae. A page on this species group is in the works.

Camponotus Alates.

This gyne is 20mm in body length.

The male. Most Camponotus male looks the same except for size differences. Males of the Camponotus species are typically small, about the size of a minor worker.

Semi Claustral Queens
Some species of Camponotus foundress are semi-claustral. Most of these semi-claustrals are arboreal species living inside branches and trunks of trees.

This Camponotus gyne (sp5) is a semi claustral queen. Some species of Camponotus queen scavenge for food during their founding years until her first brood of workers take over the job.


Colobopsis group.
Here is the gyne of an arboreal species of Camponotus sp. (Colobopsis group)

With her first brood. Most Camponotus have cocooned pupae but not those species of the Colobopsis group.

A smaller species of the Camponotus (Colobopsis group).

The two species of Camponotus (Colobopsis group) compared.

See also:
Camponotus auriventris
Camponotus bedoti
Camponotus gigas
Camponotus sp (colobopsis group)
Camponotus maculatus pallidus
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

Last Updated: 2017 02 08
First Posted: 2010 01 02
© 2009 – 2017 Quah. All rights reserved.


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    Cheers, Ellen Whyte

  2. Glad to know that these blogs have been of interest and hopefully educational too.


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