Camponotus irritans

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Camponotus irritans
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Camponotini
Genus: Camponotus
Species: C. irritans
Binomial name
Camponotus irritans
(Smith, F., 1857)

Camponotus irritans casent0901899 p 1 high.jpg

Camponotus irritans casent0901899 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels



Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 13.72333333° to -20.992°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia (type locality), Singapore.
Oriental Region: India, Nicobar Island, Sri Lanka, Vietnam.
Palaearctic Region: China.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.


Sharma (1979) - A fairly common ant in the Indian desert. It is extraordinarily tolerant of heat. The following is from field observations (March 1978 to October 1979) in the Indian desert.

Camponatus impressus nests are commonly found on calcareous soils in sandy biotopes and also in stony and rocky areas. Workers were observed dropping excavated soil, in the form of wet pellets, outside the nest entrance. During rain-storms the mouth of the nest is plugged. If the water level rises to the mouth of the nest another opening is made at a higher-level nearby. Colonies may also move to a nearby higher area. Colonies are usually solitary but at favorable sites three or more nests colonies were observed three meters apart. The opening of the nests measured about 0.5 cm x 4.0 cm. Eggs and larvae were observed pre-monsoon season. i.e. late June.

This ant is an active predator. Camponotus compressus is its most common prey, followed by termites, small beetles (mostly Protaetia cuprea), caterpillars, and larvae of various insects. All foraging is done by single workers. A forager will quickly attack any prey it encounters and tries to drag it back to their nest. A worker can capture insects up to five times its size. If a forager finds an injured C. impressus worker they will also bring it back to the nest.

Camponatus impressus begin foraging after sunrise and become more active as the temperature rises. They tolerate up to 50 C. Most desert animals take shelter when the temperature rises above 35°C and solar radiation is above 40 cal/cm2 hr. Workers do not forage when solar radiation is below 30 cal/cm2 hr. During the winter, foragers are active during mid-day when temperature rises above 28°C or solar radiation above 40 cal/cm2 hr.

Babblers (Turdoides caudatus and T. striatus), crows (Corvus splendens and C. macrorhynchos), Calotes versicolor and Varanus spp. etc. were observed preying on the carpenter ant.



The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • irritans. Formica irritans Smith, F. 1857a: 55 and 58 (w.) WEST MALAYSIA, BORNEO (East Malaysia: Sarawak).
    • [Note: this species is described a second time on p. 58 of the same publication, based on the same material.]
    • Type-material: syntype major and minor workers (numbers not stated).
    • Type-localities: 1 worker Malaysia: Malacca, “MAL 19” (A.R. Wallace), 2 workers Malacca, “34 MALAC” (A.R. Wallace), 1 worker Malaysia: Sarawak, “SAR 1” (A.R. Wallace).
    • [Notes (i): Donisthorpe, 1932c: 444, cites only 1w minor; (ii) the single worker labelled “SAR. 1” is probably the one mentioned from “Borneo (Sarawak) in the original description. I have placed this specimen with the syntypes (Bolton (unpublished notes) 1978).]
    • Type-depositories: BMNH, OXUM.
    • Forel, 1913k: 125 (q.); Wheeler, W.M. 1924b: 253 (q.m.).
    • Combination in Camponotus: Roger, 1863b: 3;
    • combination in C. (Myrmoturba): Forel, 1913k: 125;
    • combination in C. (Tanaemyrmex): Emery, 1925b: 93.
    • Subspecies of maculatus: Forel, 1892j: 242; Emery, 1896d: 370 (in list); Mayr, 1897: 432; Forel, 1901b: 27; Dahl, 1901: 17 (in key); Forel, 1909d: 229; Forel, 1911a: 48; Forel, 1911b: 210; Forel, 1912a: 75; Forel, 1912n: 62; Forel, 1913k: 125; Forel, 1915a: 37; Wheeler, W.M. 1919e: 108; Wheeler, W.M. 1924b: 253; Teranishi, 1940: 60 (first entry).
    • Status as species: Smith, F. 1858b: 22; Mayr, 1863: 416; Roger, 1863b: 3; Smith, F. 1871a: 304; Mayr, 1879: 646; Forel, 1885b: 176; Emery, 1887a: 217; Dalla Torre, 1893: 236; Emery, 1893e: 196; Bingham, 1903: 353; Forel, 1905c: 26; Wheeler, W.M. 1909d: 337; Yano, 1910: 422; Emery, 1920b: 255; Emery, 1920c: 7, 12 (in key); Santschi, 1924c: 114; Emery, 1925b: 93; Wheeler, W.M. 1929g: 57; Karavaiev, 1929c: 236; Stärcke, 1930: 376; Donisthorpe, 1932c: 444; Karavaiev, 1933a: 316; Wheeler, W.M. 1935g: 39; Wheeler, W.M. 1937a: 24; Teranishi, 1940: 60 (second entry); Chapman & Capco, 1951: 246; Bolton, 1995b: 105; Lin & Wu, 2003: 61; Karmaly & Narendran, 2006: 73; Terayama, 2009: 216; Mohanraj, et al. 2010: 6; Pfeiffer, et al. 2011: 37; Ran & Zhou, 2011: 68; Guénard & Dunn, 2012: 28; McArthur, 2012: 209; Bharti, Guénard, et al. 2016: 24; Dias, R.K.S. et al. 2020: 33; Khachonpisitsak, et al. 2020: 42; Wang, W.Y., Soh, et al. 2022: 42.
    • Senior synonym of agnatus: Bingham, 1903: 353; Emery, 1925b: 93; Bolton, 1995b: 105; Karmaly & Narendran, 2006: 73.
    • [Note: Smith, F. 1857a: 58, and Donisthorpe, 1932c: 444, suggest that irritans may be the worker of diligens.]
    • Distribution
    • Malesian: Indonesia (Java, Krakatau, Sumatra), Malaysia (Peninsula, Sarawak), Papua New Guinea, Singapore.
    • Oriental: China, India (+ Andaman Is), Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand.
    • Current subspecies: nominal plus carensis, cliens, croceomaculatus, curtus, fatuus, hongkongensis, inferior, melanogaster, pallidus, procax, sumatranus.
  • agnatus. Camponotus agnatus Roger, 1863a: 137 (s.w.) SRI LANKA.
    • Type-material: syntype major and minor workers (numbers not stated).
    • Type-locality: Sri Lanka (“Ceylon”): (no further data) (J. Nietner).
    • Type-depository: unknown.
    • [Note: Roger type-material is principally in DEIB, MNHN, MNHU, ZSBS.]
    • Combination in C. (Myrmoturba): Forel, 1914a: 266.
    • Junior synonym of mitis: Forel, 1892j: 242.
    • Status as species: Roger, 1863b: 3; Mayr, 1863: 458; Smith, F. 1871a: 306; Dalla Torre, 1893: 221; Emery, 1896d: 371 (in list); Forel, 1914a: 266; Chapman & Capco, 1951: 253 (error).
    • Junior synonym of irritans: Bingham, 1903: 353; Emery, 1925b: 93; Bolton, 1995b: 84; Karmaly & Narendran, 2006: 73.

The following notes on F. Smith type specimens have been provided by Barry Bolton (details):

Formica irritans

Three worker syntypes in Oxford University Museum of Natural History. One labelled “MAL 19.”, the other two “34 MALAC.” (both localities = West Malaysia). In addition there is a single worker labelled “SAR. 1” which is probably the one mentioned from “Borneo (Sarawak) in the original description. I have placed this specimen with the syntypes.

Smith described this species twice in the same publication (pp. 55 and 58), based on the same specimens.



References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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