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Overview

Brief Summary

Camponotus pennsylvanicus, the black carpenter ant, is a large (75-150mm long) black ant and a common pest in the United States, as they colonize wood structures to make satellite nests, and exacerbate damage done by water or rot. They are also important contributors to ecosystems, as they break down old dead and rotting trees. These ants do not eat wood, since they cannot digest cellulose. Rather, they chew through it, especially damp or soft, rotting wood, and remove the pulp in order to create tunnels and galleries in which to house their colony. Omnivores, black carpenter ants eat other insects, dead or alive, aphid honey dew, and have a penchant for sugars and fats: juice from fruit, sugar crystals, and crumbs of meat will often attract these ants into homes to forage. Camponotus pennsylvanicus ants can be controlled with ant baits, traps, and sprays, and by boric acid. Properly storing food and keeping clean countertops, as well as removing stumps and rotting trees around the house are important for eliminating black carpenter ants from homes.

(Jacobs 2008; Morton Arboretuml; Wikipedia 2011)

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Comprehensive Description

Taxonomic History

Formica pensylvanica De Geer, 1773 PDF: 603, pl. 31, figs. 9, 10 (s.w.q.m.) U.S.A. AntCat AntWiki

Taxonomic history

[Spelling justifiably emended to Camponotus pennsylvanica: Buckley, 1866 PDF: 155.].
Combination in Camponotus: Mayr, 1862 PDF: 666; in Camponotus (Camponotus): Forel, 1914a PDF: 266.
Status as species: Ruzsky, 1896 PDF: 67; Dacryon-, Podomyrma- und Echinopla-Arten. Mitteilungen aus dem Naturhistorischen Museum in Hamburg 18:43-82. [1901]">Forel, 1901m PDF: 70; Forel, 1907h PDF: 10; Wheeler, 1910g PDF: 335; Emery, 1920b PDF: 255; Creighton, 1950a PDF: 367; Smith, 1979: 1427.
Senior synonym of Camponotus semipunctata: Mayr, 1886d PDF: 420; of Camponotus herculeanopennsylvanicus (and its junior synonym Camponotus mahican): Creighton, 1950a PDF: 367.
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Biology

Woodland, forest (including floodplain forest canopy), parks, campuses. Nests in dead wood of living trees. Forages on trees and on ground day and night, more abundantly at night.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

[[ worker ]] Laenge: 9 - 12 mm. Diese Art hat eine sehr grosse Aehnlichkeit mit C. pubescens F., sowohl in der Form der Theile als auch in der Skulptur, nur in der Farbe und Behaarung finden sich Verschiedenheiten. Braunschwarz, die Mandibeln, die Mundgegend, der Schaft und die Beine sind dunkel rothbraun; bei kleinen Individuen ist gewoehnlich auch der Thorax und die Schuppe dunkel rothbraun. Die abstehende Behaarung ist wie bei C. pubescens , nur. sind die Haare auf der Oberseite des Hinterleibes so ziemlich in Reihen gestellt,. und auf der Unterseite desselben finden sich nur einige Haare. Die anliegende Pubescenz ist an der Oberseite des Hinterleibes messinggelb gefaerbt und dichter als bei C. pubescens .

 

[[ queen ]] Laenge: 15 - 16 mm; Die Farbe wie die des Weibchens von C. ligniperdus . In der Skulptur und der Form der Theile dem [[ queen ]] von C. pubescens gleich. Die abstehende Behaarung und die Pubescenz sind wie beim [[ worker ]], nur ¡ st letztere viel spaerlicher am Hinterleibe, jedoch eben so messinggelb gefaerbt.

 

[[ male ]] Laenge: 10 mm. Schwarz, Ende der Mandibeln, Geissel und Tarsen braunroth, Schenkel und Schienen braun. Am Kopfe sind nur wenige, am Thorax und an den Beinen fast gar keine abstehenden Haare, der Hinterleib ist massig abstehend behaart; die anliegende Pubescenz fehlt fast. Der Kopf ist sehr fein fingerhutartig punctirt. Die Mandibeln sind sehr fein gerunzelt, fast runzlig punctirt, deren Kaurand ist schneidig mit 1 - 2 schwachen Einkerbungen. Die Skulptur des Thorax ist wie die des Kopfes. Die Schuppe ist dick, niedrig, viereckig, ziemlich breit und oben ausgerandet. Der Hinterleib ist fein quergerunzelt. Die Fluegel sind sehr schwach gelblich gefaerbt, mit braeunlich gelben Rippen.

 

Aus New-York und New-Orleans im kais. zoologischen Kabinete in Wien.

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Mayr, G.

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Ecology

Associations

Known predators

Camponotus pennsylvanicus (spiders, wasps, tiger beetles, carpenter ants) is prey of:
Phasianidae
Timaliidae
Serpentes
Varanidae
Canis aureus
Erinaceus europaeus
bultul
Laniidae
Saxicoloides fulicata
Vulpes vulpes

Based on studies in:
India, Rajasthan Desert (Desert or dune)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • I. K. Sharma, A study of ecosystems of the Indian desert, Trans. Indian Soc. Desert Technol. and Univ. Center Desert Stud. 5(2):51-55, from p. 52 and A study of agro-ecosystems in the Indian desert, ibid. 5:77-82, from p. 79 1980).
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Known prey organisms

Camponotus pennsylvanicus (spiders, wasps, tiger beetles, carpenter ants) preys on:
Isoptera
Coleoptera
Hymenoptera
Auchenorrhyncha

Based on studies in:
India, Rajasthan Desert (Desert or dune)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • I. K. Sharma, A study of ecosystems of the Indian desert, Trans. Indian Soc. Desert Technol. and Univ. Center Desert Stud. 5(2):51-55, from p. 52 and A study of agro-ecosystems in the Indian desert, ibid. 5:77-82, from p. 79 1980).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Camponotus pennsylvanicus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 9 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

TCGATCTCCTTATTAATC------------------CTNNNAAATTTTATTAATGAA---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------GGATCTGGAACTGGTTGAACTATCTACCCCCCTCTATCATCAAATACCTTCCATAGTGGCCCCTCTATTGACCTGACTATCTTTTCTCTCCATATTGCTGGTATATCCTCAATTATAGGAGCAATCAATTTTATTTCAACAATTATAAATATACATAATTCCAATATTTCCCTAGATAAAATTCCCTTATTAGTATGATCTATTCTTATTACAGCTATTCTCCTTCTTCTGTCCCTACCTGTTCTAGCAGGCGCTATTACAATACTACTAACAGACCGAAATCTTAATACTTCATTTTTCGATCCCTCGGGAGGAGGAGATCCTATTTTATACCAACATTTATTTTGATTTTTTGGTCACCCTGAGGTATATATTTTAATTCTCCCTGGATTTGGTCTAATCTCTCATATTATCATAAATGAGAGAGGAAAAAAAGAAACCTTTGGGGCCCTTGGAATAATTTATGCAATTATTACAATTGGATTTTTAGGATTTATTGTTTGAGCTCACCATATATTCACTATTGGTCTAGATATTGATACTCGGG
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Camponotus pennsylvanicus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 41
Specimens with Barcodes: 173
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Wikipedia

Black carpenter ant

The black carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) is a species of carpenter ant. It is the most common carpenter ant pest in the United States.

Appearance[edit]

C. pennsylvanicus can be distinguished from other carpenter ant species by the dull black color of the head and body, and by whitish or yellowish hairs on the abdomen. All castes of this species (including the major and minor workers, queens, and males) are black or blackish. Colonies' workers are not all the same size (polymorphism). The antennae are elbowed, usually with six to 13 segments. Workers range from 1-2 cm long.

Behavior[edit]

Black carpenter ants are known to forage up to 100 yards in search of food. Workers are most active at night, traveling from their nest to a food source following trails. They do establish chemical (pheromone) trails. The ants produce crackling sounds that can often be heard near a large nest. A large colony can have thousands of individuals. The black carpenter ant does not sting, but the larger workers can administer a sharp bite, which can become further irritated by the injection of formic acid, which they produce. Black carpenter ants are fiercely territorial with regard to other ants.

Black carpenter ants do not eat or digest wood, but they tunnel through wood, which can cause structural damage.

Diet[edit]

Black carpenter ants are omnivorous. They can eat a great variety of both animal and plant foods, including plant juices, fruits, living or dead insects, other small invertebrates, common sweets such as syrup, honey, jelly, sugar, salt, and fruit, and most kinds of meat, grease, and fat. Unlike termites, they cannot digest wood cellulose.

Control measures[edit]

In their natural environment, carpenter ants nest in dead trees and other dead wood. This enhances decay, which has ecological benefits. However, the ant achieves pest status when a colony invades the wood of a house or other structure, damaging its structural integrity.[1]

Since they favor moist wood as a habitat, any condition that promotes moisture should be eliminated to prevent infestation. The easiest of these is keeping gutters clear so water does not run down the side of the structure or gain entry. Moist wood is much easier to chew. The ants do not eat the wood, but remove it to create galleries for their activities. The galleries run parallel to the grain, as they are created in the softer, nonlignin portions of the timber. The galleries have a sandpaper-like feel, due to fecal remnants, but the mud tubes produced by termites will not be present. Sawdust-like piles of frass sometimes accumulate below sites of activity.

Any wood in contact with the ground can be a source of entry, and water draining toward the structure will also encourage these ants. Sloping the surrounding ground away from the structure will remedy this method of entry. Leaks inside the house from plumbing or appliances can also create the moist conditions that encourage these species.

Reducing moisture will not eliminate an established colony. One can spray the insects with common household insecticides to kill them, but this is unlikely to penetrate enough to reliably kill the colonies deep in the wood. Since the wood housing the main nest likely is no longer structurally sound, the complete removal of the nest and structural repair are required.

The main nest may be located by tracing the foraging workers as they return home. Winged males leave the nest to reproduce, so following them is pointless. The males leave in search of sunlight, so they are often seen near doors and windows (as exit points). If winged ants are seen, a colony is nearby, so this is an important warning sign. Structural damage can be extensive by the time external damage is visible, such as sawdust or bubbling paint.

Various pesticide measures are now used, including diatomaceous earth, granular chemicals, biologicals, and soil poisoning. The last alternative is the least environmentally sound, since it requires widespread distribution of large amounts of poison. The granular chemicals exploit the insects' fondness for sweets, by offering slow-acting insecticides in food substances. The granules are carried back to the nest, where the weak poisons will be slowly fed to the queen until she expires.[citation needed]

References[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Subgenus: Camponotus

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