Carpenter ants are large (.25 to 1 in/0.64 to 2.5 cm) ants indigenous to many parts of the world. They prefer dead, damp wood in which to build nests. They do not consume it, however, unlike termites. Sometimes carpenter ants will hollow out sections of trees. The most likely species to be infesting a house in the United States is the black carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus). However, there are over a thousand other species in the genus Camponotus.
All ants in this genus, and also some related genera, possess an obligate bacterial endosymbiont called Blochmannia. This bacterium has a small genome, and retains genes to biosynthesize essential amino acids and other nutrients. This suggests the bacterium plays a role in ant nutrition. Many Camponotus species are also infected with Wolbachia, another endosymbiont that is widespread across insect groups.
Carpenter ant species reside both outdoors and indoors in moist, decaying or hollow wood. They cut "galleries" into the wood grain to provide passageways for movement from section to section of the nest. Certain parts of a house, such as around and under windows, roof eaves, decks and porches, are more likely to be infested by Carpenter Ants because these areas are most vulnerable to moisture.
Carpenter ants can damage wood used in the construction of buildings. They can leave behind a sawdust-like material called frass that provides clues to their nesting location. Carpenter ant galleries are smooth and very different from termite-damaged areas, which have mud packed into the hollowed-out areas.
Control involves application of insecticides in various forms including dusts and liquids. The dusts are injected directly into galleries and voids where the carpenter ants are living. The liquids are applied in areas where foraging ants are likely to pick the material up and spread the poison to the colony upon returning.
In at least nine Southeast Asian species of the Cylindricus complex, including Camponotus saundersi, workers feature greatly enlarged mandibular glands that run the entire length of the ant's body. They can release their contents suicidally by performing autothysis, thereby rupturing the ant's body and spraying toxic substance from the head, which gives these species the common name "exploding ants." The ant has an enormously enlarged mandibular gland, many times the size of a normal ant, which produces the glue. The glue bursts out and entangles and immobilizes all nearby victims.
- Camponotus atriceps: Florida carpenter ant; one of the many kinds of carpenter ants that can bite and release a painful acid.
- Camponotus chromaiodes: red carpenter ant
- Camponotus compressus (Fabricius, 1787)
- Camponotus consobrinus: sugar ant
- Camponotus crassus Mayr, 1862
- Camponotus ferrugineus (Fab.): red carpenter ant
- Camponotus festinatus (Buckley, 1866)
- Camponotus flavomarginatus Mayr, 1862
- Camponotus floridanus: a species whose genome was sequenced
- Camponotus gigas (Latreille, 1802): Giant forest ant
- Camponotus herculeanus
- Camponotus kaura
- Camponotus ligniperda: an important species in Europe
- Camponotus nearcticus (Emery): smaller carpenter ant
- Camponotus novaeboracensis Region of Québec, black and red
- Camponotus pennsylvanicus (DeGeer): black carpenter ant
- Camponotus punctulatus (Mayr): Tacuru ant
- Camponotus saundersi: Malaysia
- Camponotus schmitzi Stärke, 1933
- Camponotus sericeus
- Camponotus silvestrii Emery, 1906
- Camponotus taino
- Camponotus universitatis Forel, 1890
- Camponotus vagus Scopoli, 1763
- Camponotus variegatus: Hawaiian carpenter ant
- Catseye Pest Control http://www.catseyepest.com
- Jones, T.H.; Clark, D.A.; Edwards, A.A.; Davidson, D.W.; Spande, T.F. and Snelling, Roy R. (2004): "The Chemistry of Exploding Ants, Camponotus spp. (Cylindricus complex)". Journal of Chemical Ecology 30(8): 1479–1492. doi:10.1023/B:JOEC.0000042063.01424.28
- Emery, Carlo (1889). Viaggio di Leonardo Fea in Birmania e regioni vicine. XX. Formiche di Birmania e del Tenasserim raccolte da Leonardo Fea (1885–87). Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale Giacomo Doria (Genova) 2 7(27): 485–520. [PDF]
- "Utahn enters world of exploding ants". Deseret News. September 11, 2002. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/936318/?pg=2. University of Utah graduate student Steve Cook explained "They've been called kamikaze ants by other researchers because they tend to explode or self-destruct when they're attacked or harassed in any way."
- Vittachi, Nury (June 6, 2008). "The Malaysian ant teaches us all how to go out with a bang". Daily Star (Dhaka). http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=39830.
- Ridley, Mark (1995). Animal Behaviour (Second ed.). Blackwell Publishing. p. 3. ISBN 0-86542-390-3. http://books.google.com/?id=IbT2pd_p8AUC&pg=PA2&dq=%22Camponotus+saundersi%22#v=onepage&q=%22Camponotus%20saundersi%22. Retrieved 2009-09-26.
- Robert S. Anderson, Richard Beatty, Stuart Church (2003-01). Insects and Spiders of the World. 9. p. 543. ISBN 978-0-7614-7334-3. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=V1h8nqFXjN8C&pg=PA543.
- Mayr, Gustav (1861): Die europäischen Formiciden. Vienna. PDF—original description of p. 35
- McArthur, Archie J (2007): A Key to Camponotus Mayr of Australia. In: Snelling, R.R., B.L. Fisher and P.S. Ward (eds). Advances in ant systematics (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): homage to E.O. Wilson – 50 years of contributions. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 80. PDF—91 species, 10 subspecies