CARPENTER ANTS . WOOD ANTS
Large Ants of Genus Camponotus
By Carolyn Pararas-Carayannis
Class: Insecta Order: Hymenoptera Family: Formicidae Genus: Camponotus
For in-depth discussion of Myrmecology: Ant Taxonomy & Classification; Formicidae
(ant) Colony Behaviors; Anatomy, Physiology, Life Cycle (complete
metamorphosis), Colony Caste System and great, relevant
ant videos click here.
Fig.1 Black Carpenter Ant (species C. pennsylvanicus) Photo: Alex Wild/myrmecos.net
Mature adult workers can be red, black or brown - however, variations of these
colors are not uncommon. Overall size range is species dependant.
Queens of the species are larger and workers of established
exhibit polymorphism - size variation among workers.
ant in the photo to the left. It is a classic example of the
pennsylvanicus) that inhabits the eastern United States. Of ant types, this is perhaps the largest species in Genus Camponotus. Some winged queens have measured as large as 1" (Hahn, Cannon & Ascerno, 2002).
Closer discrimination of the photo reveals: overall, dull black color with
lighter, yellow/brown hairs on its gaster, a rounded, smooth convex thorax, narrow waist (petiole) and one, small nodal protrusion, just anterior to its gaster. Antennas
exhibit characteristic "elbow" bends, devoid of "bulbs or clubbing" at their ends. All distal legs are
dark reddish in color. Note, Carpenter Ants have no posterior "stinger". Although unequipped to sting, Carpenter's will bite if threatened. Using their strong mandibles to grab and hold their prey, they spray formic
acid directly into the bite wound from a gland located at the
their abdomen. Although formic acid from a single ant is not poisonous, many ants attacking together can can overcome and mortally wound small insect prey.
For human's, Carpenter Ant bites are not poisonous unless the individual has a severe allergy to formic acid, which is rare. When bitten, in addition to pain from the bite, it is usual for one to feel short-lived "stinging" or "burning" sensations due to the spray of formic acid from the ant (or ants) directly into the bite wounds. Bite wounds should be washed well with soap and water and then covered with a thin film of antibiotic cream. If stings remain bothersome, which in many cases they do, after washing apply a thick paste of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) over the affected area. This neutralizes the formic acid and relieves the sting and burning sensations.
fig.1a: Carpenter Ant Mandibles photo: courtesy of Orkin Inc./orkin.com
IDENTIFICATION MADE EASY- KEY POINTS
Large Ants: Carpenter Ants - genus Camponotus, common name: wood ants
Identifications are made using mature adults.
Overall body size of Carpenter Ants is generally not a good indicator for identification because body
size varies significantly across and within species. However, the identification of polymorphism, caste size variation, is. This is well demonstrated
among the workers of the Black Carpenter ant (species: C. pennsylvanicus), which range in size from 1/4" to 1/2" within the same colony; and the workers of the New York Carpenter ant (species: C. novaboracensi), which range in size from 3/16" to 3/8" within their same colony. These caste size variations are due to major sub classifications
within the Carpenter's "worker" cast where minor, intermediate, and major workers all exhibit different body
Fig.2 Anatominical Characteristics of Carpenter Ants (original figure by Hahn, Cannon & Ascerno, 2002; edited Pararas-Carayannis 2008)
Major anatominical indicators single out Carpenter Ants (wood ants) from other species of large ants. These can be seen clearly in Fig.2
(left) and Fig.1 photo (above).
1. The top of the thorax is evenly rounded, convex and bears no spines.
2. The attachment between the thorax and abdomen (petiole) forms a "waist" with one protruding node.
3. Camponotus species are polymorphic.
4. No ending "bulb" or "club" on their antennae.
5. Antennae: Characteristic "elbow bend" with 12 segments.
6. Hairs are present on gaster. There is no posterior
7. Sizes in a colony range from 6mm for minor workers, to 18mm for winged
reproductives and as large as 20mm for the functional wingless,
colony queen. Size varies between species - thus overall body
size is not a good identification indicator, but identification
of polymorphism within the colony is (see #3 above).
8. Winged Carpenter Ants can resemble winged termites. Find out how to tell the difference, below.
ANATOMINICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WINGED CARPENTER ANTS & TERMINTES
Fig.3 Texas Agricultural Extension Service Diagram 1999
Carpenter ants have dark bodies, narrow waists and elbowed antennae. Front and hind wings
are not alike. Hind wings are shorter,
in shape and exhibit few vein patterns. When wings detach, there
are no wing stubs. Carpenters can be seen
flying about in the open, during daylight.
Conversely, Termites are light in color, have no waist constriction, antennae
are not elbowed, and wing stubs are present when wings detach.
Front and rear wings are similar in size, shape and vein patterns.
Many small veins are
present. Front and rear wings are
equal in length.
Termites do not like light. They avoid
.Next: Carpenter Ant Behaviors (Nesting, Primary Nests, Satellite Nests, New Primary Nest Formation, Nuptial Flight, Habits & Seasonal Activities; Diet & Foraging; Carpenter Ant Videos - Colony Behaviors / Nesting.)
Carpenter Ant - Wood Ant Introduction
Carpenter Ant Anatomy (General Anatomy, Identification Made Easy, Anatomical Differences Between Winged Carpenter Ants and Termites)
Carpenter Ant Videos (Carpenter Nest; Carpenter Workers Removing Wood, Carpenter Ant Nest - Home Infestation)
Signs of.Indoor Infestation....Eradication ......Prevention & Ant Control.
Ant Types: Large Ants; Common Name: Carpenter Ants - Wood Ants; Genus: Camponotus; 600 Species world-wide
Carpenter Ant Taxonomy
Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Arthropoda, Subphylum: Hexapoda, Class: Insecta, Subclass: Pterygota, Infraclass: Neoptera, Order: Hymenoptera, Suborder: Apocrita, Infraorder: Aculeata, Superfamily: Vespoidea, Family: Formicidae Genus: Camponotus (ITIS, 2006).
Search Terms: Large Ants; Ant Types; Ant Species; Carpenter Ants; Family: Formicidae; Genus: Camponotus; Wood Ants; Ant Videos
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REFERENCES & ADDITIONAL READING
"Arthropoda". The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
©2008 on Integrated Taxonomic Index Information System Online Database.
14 Dec. 2008, retrieved.
"Carpenter Ant". 1999. Field Guide to Texas Insects by Drees, B.M. and John Jackman, Gulf Publishing Co. Houston, Tx.; Reprinted
online by Texas A&M University Department of Entomology © 2008.
28 Dec. 2008, retrieved.
"Carpenter Ant". Western Pest Services.
©2008 Western Pest Services.
28 Dec. 2008, retrieved.
"Carpenter Ant Bites". © Orkin Inc.. 2May2010 retrieved. <http://www.orkin.com/ants/carpenter-ant/carpenter-ant-bites>
"Carpenter Ants". Mid Atlantic Integrated Pest Management.
©2007 Mid Atlantic IPM.
28 Dec. 2008, retrieved.
"Pest Control". Do It Yourself Pest Control. ©2006 Do It Yourself Pest Control.
2009 Dec. retrieved.< http://antcontrols.com/carp.htm> .
Gold R.; Glenn G; Brown W. 1999. "Carpenter Ants".
Texas Agricultural Extension Service; © Texas A&M University Department of Entomology. Accessed December 28,
2008 at: <http://insects.tamu.edu/extension/publications/epubs/e-412.cfm>.
Hahn J.; Cannon, C.; Ascerno, M. 2002. "Carpenter Ants".
© 2004 University of Minnesota Extension; Accessed December 26, 2008 at
"Types of Ants: Carpenter Ants". The Ant Institute Online.
©2008 BASF Corporation.
28 Dec. 2008, retrieved.
Vail, Karen M. 2006. "Carpenter Ants". UT Extension Website
University of Tennessee.
28 Dec. 2008, retrieved.
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