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Carpenter Ant

Camponotus ocreatus

Camponotas ocreatus on Organ Pipe Cactus, photo © by Michael Plagens

These ants were found taking extra-floral nectar from buds on Organ Pipe Cactus (Stenocereus thurberi). Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Pima County, Arizona. May 2013. Dr. James Trager verified the identification.

Formicidae -- Ant Family

C. ocreatus nest in the ground and are nocturnal. By emerging at night and seeking cooler temperatures underground during the day these large ants represent an important cog in the Sonoran Desert ecosystem. The ants at left take a nutritious substance secreted by the cactus from the buds. In return the ants predate plant-eating insects and with powerful acid spray repel mammals and others that might eat undeveloped flower buds and fruit.

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