Colony Behaviors of Carpenter Ants - Wood Ants: Very Large Ants of Genus Campotonus. View Ant Videos and Ant Photos.

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Carpenter Ant Species - USA

Camponotus castaneus (USA)

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Carpenter Ant Species - Australia..........Carpenter Ant Species - Europe.....Carpenter Ant Species - S. Africa

.Camponotus aeneopilosus (Australia).................. Camponotus ligniperda (Europe)................Camponotus arminius (S. Africa).....



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.

Ant Types: Large Ants; Common Name: Carpenter Ants - Wood Ants; Genus: Camponotus; 600 Species world-wide

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Nesting..............Primary Nests ............ Satellite Nests

Nuptial Flight & New Nest Formation

Habits & Seasonal Activities.......Foraging & Diet.......Carpenter Ant Videos


Once Carpenters establish their nest, they reproduce with vigor. Although there is only one queen to a colony, many viable eggs are deposited by her each day; and the complete metamorphic development of her brood, from egg to adult, takes a mere 60 days (egg - larvae - pupae - adult).

During the first year the colony remains small. Soon after, it begins to grow rapidly. It is not uncommon for populations to reach 2,000 - 3,000 individuals within three to six years, producing 200 to 400 winged reproductives a year. In ten years, depending upon the species, colony numbers can reach as high as 5,000 and 100,000 individuals. Once a colony matures, the number of inhabitants remains constant and colony efforts are directed toward maintaining the status quo.

As a colony matures, workers establish multiple satellite nests located within the same locale as the primary nest. Many times, a primary nesting colony is established just outside of a structure while satellite nests of this same colony are established within the structure.

Primary Nests: Eggs are environmentally sensitive and require 12%-15% humidity within their incubating galleries for proper development. This is why primary nests are established within moist or decaying matter.

Outdoors Carpenters favor rotting trees, tree stumps, disintegrating tree roots, damp fire wood piles, hollow fence posts, damp porches and roofs or any moist areas previously excavated by other insects, such as termites.

Indoors, Carpenters look again for moist areas to establish their primary nests. Take note for primary nests where dampness might accumulate: i.e. around sinks, bathtubs, cracked or poorly sealed door frames and window sashes, inside window sills and near any cracks or portals which communicate with outdoors - like utility pipes and wires that enter the dwelling.

Satellite Nests: Satellite nests do not house eggs and thus have no stringent humidity requirement. Because Carpenter eggs are always housed within the primary nest, satellite nest locations are more diverse. When satellite nests are created (yes, there can be more than one), major relocations of castes occur and individuals are moved accordingly. Satellite nests house older larvae, pupae, winged males and winged females (also called "swarmers"- potential queens prior to their nuptial flight). The primary nesting colony remains reserved for the colony queen, eggs, new larvae and workers.

Very often, the main nesting colony is located outside a structure, while satellite nests are established within the adjacent structure. Indoors, satellite nests can be found in dry areas within hollows and pre-existing voids such as: beneath insulation, curtain rods, in walls, window sills, in attics and between false ceilings.

Nuptial Flight & New Nest Formation: During late winter and early spring swarms of winged queens and winged males (produced during late summer) emerge from mature colony (satellite) nests for their nuptial flights. If nest locations are indoors, swarming individuals are easily identified, often trapped within the structure.

The simultaneous mating flight of all winged sexual's produced from colonies within a specific geographic area is called "Nuptial Flight". This "swarming" is triggered by optimal environmental conditions (warm and humid) and sustained via pheromone communications. It can last all day. It is the first step for propagation of the species via the establishment of new, independent primary colonies.

During the flight winged females (queens) mate with several winged males. Males die shortly after mating. Once mated, the queen remains fertile for life. No longer in need of her wings, she bites them off and looks for an appropriate location to begin a new nest, usually in moist or decaying wood. After excavating a small gallery in the wood, the Carpenter queen deposits 15-20 eggs, which she cares for until they emerge as mature worker ants (infertile female workers). After establishing her "nucleus" colony, she concentrates on laying eggs and the workers take over all other colony duties, which include protecting and caring for her and her brood, excavating galleries, and foraging for food.


Ants are cold-blooded thus workers exhibit minimal foraging activity (relative dormancy) during cold temperatures unless nesting areas receive sufficient warmth from either warmer, sunny days outdoors, or adequate indoor heating.

Depending upon the location of the indoor nest, there many not be enough warmth during winter for workers to become active outside of the nest. Thus, indoor nest location can often be difficult to identify during this time and must be deferred until early spring, when activities resume.

Foraging & Diet:

Most Carpenter Ants are nocturnal and forage at night. However, some species do forage during daylight hours. Daylight foraging has been observed more frequently during spring and summer. Foraging workers often travel 100 yards from the nest to find food for the colony. Carpenter Ants are omnivorous and will forage indoors or outdoors. Their diet is varied and consists mainly of protein and sugar sources. Many species tend to feed more on proteins during spring and favor carbohydrates during fall. Unlike termites, Carpenter ants are unable to digest wood cellulose and, thus, do not eat wood. They only excavate wood to create galleries and tunnels for nesting.

Outdoor Diet: Carpenters forage for living or dead insects, small invertebrates, and anything sweet such as plant and fruit juices and honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by aphids and scale insects.

Indoor Diet: Carpenters forage for fish, meats (protein), grease, fat and anything sugary or sweet such as: syrup, honey, sugar, jelly.

Foraging Trails: A foraging trail is identified as a long line of ants moving back and forth along a specific pathway - usually to and from a food source from the nest and back again. Following an active foraging trail will usually lead you to the nest.

Foraging ants communicate via chemical phernomes. When a worker finds food, it marks the shortest distance back to the nest using a pheromone deposited on the ground from the underside of its body. This marks the way back to the food source for other foragers to follow. As more foragers follow the marked trail, they reinforce the scent for others to come, thus keeping the foraging trail "active" until the food source has dissipated.

Foraging trails can be overt - easily identified, exposed along surfaces; or covert - hidden underground, within hollows of a structure or under debris. Inspections to locate foraging trails of nocturnal species should be made during evening or early morning. Inspections to locate species which forage during the day should be made during daylight hours.

Established, Outdoor foraging trails (overt) can be seen along tree branches, utility wires, edges of lawns, foundations,walkways, landscaping structures, outdoor pipes/plumbing. Hidden or "covert" foraging trails are harder to identify, often located under soil, leaves and other outdoor debris.

Established, Indoor foraging trails (overt) can be seen along edges of counter top, cabinets, along the floor close to cabinet bases, on furniture, indoor window sills and door jams. Again, covert foraging trails are harder to identify, often located within voids of wall, curtain or window shade rods, under insulation or sub flooring.

TIP: It is important to determine whether ants seen in your home are are just "wandering" through in search of food or have established nests there. In general, sources suggest if you notice five or more Carpenter Ants per day in an area where there is no food (bathroom or bedroom), this usually indicates an indoor nest. Another good indication of an indoor nest is if you notice Carpenters "wandering" around your home during winter, late winter or very early spring.


Ant Types: Large Ants; Common Name: Wood Ants; Genus: Camponotus; Species: Carpenter Ants

1. Carpenter Ant Video: home infestation: "Carpenter Ant Explosion": v=kbujb4WVP6I



2. Carpenter Ant Video: outdoors: boring into log, excavating wood: "Carpenter Ants in Action": v=vWW3OE3gzJs






Carpenter Ants - Introduction

Carpenter Ant - Anatomy (General Anatomy, Identification Made Easy, Anatomical Differences Between Winged Carpenter Ants and Termites) .

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 Videos (Carpenter Nest; Carpenter Workers Removing Wood, Carpenter Ant Nest - Home Infestation).

Signs of Indoor Infestation - Prevention & Ant Control - .Eradication

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 : Article Previews

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    Pararas-Carayannis, Carolyn (2008). Carpenter Ants (Wood Ants): The Large Ants of Genus Camponotus - Behaviors. Info-Now.Org Website: .
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    Carpenter Ants (Wood Ants): The Large Ants of Genus Camponotus - Behaviors by Carolyn Pararas-Carayannis. Educational, informative article with high-definition photos and videos. The third in a three part series (#1-introduction, #2-anatomy, #3-behaviors) about Carpenter Ants, often called "Wood Ants", Genus Camponotus.