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Carpenter Ant

Camponotus festinatus

Photo © by Dale Ward

This nocturnal ant was photographed by Dale Ward. It is a major worker that is larger and has a more robust head than a minor worker of the same species. These separate ant casts allow a division of labors in running the colony. Contact Dale ( for questions regarding use of his fine images.

Formicidae -- Ant Family

As their name implies, these ants nest in galleries excavated in wood. However, the weak mandibles of C. festinatus can only work through soft, rotten wood. They usually inhabit/enlarge galleries previously created by other insects such as termites, beetles or bees.

C. festinatus are highly nocturnal and largely arboreal. To find them, look on trees such as Blue Palo Verde and Mesquites at night using a small flashlight. They are attracted to sweets such as oozing sap and extra-floral nectaries. They also prey on various insects they catch. As with most ants in the Formicinae subfamily they can spray out formic acid from the tip of their abdomen - a tactic that can ward off ant predators.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 23 Dec. 2008,
updated 10 July 2013