Camponotus lateralis

Every Ant Tells a Story - And Scientists Explain Their Stories Here
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Camponotus lateralis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Camponotini
Genus: Camponotus
Species group: lateralis
Species: C. lateralis
Binomial name
Camponotus lateralis
(Olivier, 1792)

Camponotus lateralis casent0080857 profile 1.jpg

Camponotus lateralis casent0080857 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


This arboreal species is present in southern and central Europe, as well as in Crimea, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, Kopet Dag (Iran) and NW Africa (Radchenko 1997a). It inhabits warm, xerotherm areas; nests are mostly built in dead wood (Marko et al., 2009; Rigato & Toni, 2011). Pashaei Rad et al. (2018) found this species in Iran on city plant in a Caspian moist littoral area.

Photo Gallery

  • Camponotus lateralis, full-face. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Camponotus lateralis worker. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Camponotus lateralis, queen and workers. Photo by Michal Kukla.


A member of the Camponotus lateralis species group. Ionescu-Hirsch (2009) - C. lateralis is characterized by a deep metanotal groove and a flat or concave propodeal dorsum posteriorly. The petiolar scale is strongly convex anterodorsally and flat posteriorly. The body is feebly sculptured and shiny. The pilosity on the dorsum of the propodeum consists of a transversal row of six erect setae at the junction with declivity and short apressed pubescence. C. lateralis has a weak ground sculpture, is mostly shiny, and has yellowish-brown head and mesosoma, occasionally reddish-brown to dark blackish-brown, and black gaster. C. lateralis and Camponotus staryi (its sister species, according to Radchenko, 1997c) are similar, except for the propodeal dorsum being lower than the highest point of the mesonotum in C. lateralis, as opposed to a propodeal dorsum exceeding the highest point of the mesonotum in C. staryi, and a uniformly dark gaster, as opposed to a mostly dark brown gaster with the first segment ochraceous. C. lateralis is similar to Camponotus dalmaticus except for its head being paler than gaster, as opposed to the head equally dark as the gaster. C. lateralis is similar to Camponotus rebeccae in coloration but differs from it by a deep metanotal groove, as opposed to a shallow metanotal groove and by a flat or concave propodeal dorsum, as opposed to a convex propodeal dorsum in C. rebeccae.

Keys including this Species


Ionescu-Hirsch (2009) - Southern and central Europe, Crimea, Caucasus, northwestern Morocco, and eastern Mediterranean (Radchenko, 1997c).

Marko et al. (2009) - This species occurs in every region of Romania, although data are scattered and scarce. The occurrence of C. lateralis sp. 2 (Seifert 2007) can also be expected, based on the preliminary distribution data.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Albania, Algeria (type locality), Andorra, Armenia, Balearic Islands, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France (type locality), Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iberian Peninsula, Iran, Israel, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


The color morph of Camponotus lateralis which occurs in the West and Central Mediterranean mimics the pigmentation pattern of the aggressive and unpalatable Crematogaster scutellaris in order to achieve protective Batesian mimicry in a parabiotic association with this dominant species (Seifert, 2019).

Guiliani et al. (2019) observed this species foraging on extrafloral nectaries of the invasive Reynoutria x bohemica (Polygonaceae) in Tuscany. The habitats examined were river banks and disturbed habitats.



The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • lateralis. Formica lateralis Olivier, 1792: 497 (q.) FRANCE. Mayr, 1853b: 103 (s.w.m.); Hauschteck, 1962: 219 (k.). Combination in Camponotus: Mayr, 1861: 36; in C. (Orthonotomyrmex): Forel, 1913d: 436; in C. (Myrmentoma): Forel, 1912i: 92; Emery, 1925b: 120. Senior synonym of melanogastes, bicolor: Mayr, 1853b: 102; of axillaris: Mayr, 1855: 322; of pallidinervis: Mayr, 1863: 399; of hemipsila: Forel, 1894d: 5; of armouri (and its junior synonyn balearis): Collingwood, 1978: 73; of kosswigi: Radchenko, 1997b: 706. See also: Bondroit, 1918: 78; Emery, 1924a: 68; Finzi, 1930d: 318; Stitz, 1939: 254; Bernard, 1967: 344; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 191; Kutter, 1977c: 207; Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 225; Radchenko, 1996b: 1197 (key). Current subspecies: nominal plus cypridis, ebneri, purius, rhodius.
  • bicolor. Formica bicolor Latreille, 1798: 43 (w.) FRANCE. [Unresolved junior primary homonym of Formica bicolor Fabricius, 1793: 351 (now in Cataglyphis).] Junior synonym of lateralis: Mayr, 1853b: 102.
  • melanogastes. Formica melanogastes Latreille, 1802c: 171, pl. 7, fig. 39 (w.) FRANCE. Junior synonym of lateralis: Mayr, 1853b: 102.
  • axillaris. Formica axillaris Spinola, 1808: 243 (w.) ITALY. Junior synonym of lateralis: Mayr, 1855: 322.
  • pallidinervis. Formica pallidinervis Brullé, 1833: 326 (m.) GREECE. Combination in Camponotus, and junior synonym of aethiops: Roger, 1863b: 1. Junior synonym of lateralis: Mayr, 1863: 399.
  • hemipsila. Formica hemipsila Foerster, 1850b: 492 (q.) ALGERIA. Junior synonym of lateralis: Forel, 1894d: 5.
  • armouri. Camponotus (Myrmentoma) lateralis subsp. armouri Wheeler, W.M. 1926: 5 (w.q.m.) BALEARIC IS. Senior synonym of balearis: Santschi, 1936c: 207 (given as junior synonym but armouri has priority over balearis). Junior synonym of lateralis: Collingwood, 1978: 73.
  • balearis. Camponotus (Myrmentoma) lateralis var. balearis Santschi, 1929e: 164 (w.) SPAIN (Balearic Is). [First available use of Camponotus lateralis st. spissinodis var. balearis Santschi, 1925g: 360; unavailable name.] Junior synonym of armouri: Santschi, 1936c: 207 (given as senior synonym but armouri has priority).
  • kosswigi. Camponotus (Orthonotomyrmex) kosswigi Donisthorpe, 1950c: 68 (w.) TURKEY. Junior synonym of lateralis: Radchenko, 1997b: 706.
  • merula. Formica merula Losana, 1834: 313, pl.36, fig. 2 (w.) ITALY.
    • Bondroit, 1918: 77 (s.q.m.).
    • Combination in Camponotus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 238.
    • Combination in C. (Orthonotomyrmex): Müller, 1923: 162.
    • Combination in C. (Myrmentoma): Emery, 1925b: 120.
    • Junior synonym of piceus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 238; Ruzsky, 1905b: 255; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 194; Kutter, 1977c: 207.
    • Subspecies of lateralis: Emery, 1896d: 373; Emery, 1898c: 125; Ruzsky, 1902d: 7; Emery, 1916b: 226; Ruzsky, 1925b: 42.
    • Status as species: Bondroit, 1918: 77; Müller, 1923: 162; Novak & Sadil, 1941: 109; Bernard, 1967: 344; Arnol'di & Dlussky, 1978: 552.
    • Junior synonym of piceus: Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 222.
    • Junior synonym of lateralis: Seifert, 2019: 17.
  • purius. Camponotus (Myrmentoma) lateralis var. purius Santschi, 1929e: 163 (w.q.m.) ALGERIA.
    • Junior synonym of lateralis: Seifert, 2019: 17.

Taxonomic Notes

Camponotus armouri: Examined was one worker syntype from Museum of Comparative Zoology, labeled ‘Barranco de San Juan, Minorca 8-24 – 25 W.M. Wheeler’, ‘M.C.Z. CoType 1-3 21538’. It is a typical Camponotus lateralis morph 1 and is allocated to this cluster with p = 1.000 if run as wild-card in a discriminant analysis considering all investigated characters and all entities given in Tab. 2 (Seifert, 2019).

Formica axillaris: According to the shape characters reported, this name belongs to the C. lateralis group. Furthermore, Spinola’s statements on color (‘Caput rubrum...Thorax niger... Abdomen nigrum’) allow the conclusion that it may belong to the color morph of C. lateralis mimicking Crematogaster scutellaris (Seifert, 2019).

Camponotus balearis: Investigated were three syntype workers from Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel, labeled ‘Type’, ‘Baleares Ekker’, and ‘Camponotus (Myrmentoma) lateralis Ol v. balearis Sant’. All types are typical Camponotus lateralis morph 1 and each is allocated to this cluster with p=1.000 if run as wild-card in discriminant analysis considering all investigated characters and all entities given in Tab. 2 (Seifert, 2019).

Formica bicolor: The full text of the original description states ‘Rouge, luisante, rase. Yeux et abdomen noirs. Écaille épaisse, entière.’ Considering that the terra typica is France, this allows only to conclude on an ant of the subfamily Formicinae (Seifert, 2019).

Formica hemipsila: This taxon was described on the basis of a gyne from Alger/Algeria. Types most certainly do not exist. The description ‘Kopf...Mittelleib roth...nur Mittelbrust und Schildchen ganz schwarz’ may suggest a Camponotus related to the C. lateralis group (Seifert, 2019).

Camponotus kosswigi: The lecto- and paratype, stored in The Natural History Museum, were collected in Erbeyli / W Turkey, 14.V.1947. Pictures of syntypes in under CASENT0903594 (major worker) and CASENT0903595 (minor worker) strongly suggest a synonymy with Camponotus lateralis morph 1 based on diagnostic setae and shape characters. A synonymy with Camponotus lateralis morph 2 and Camponotus rebeccae is excluded by the large scape base index SCI which is about 1.23 in the specimen with CW = 1.46 mm and 1.37 in the specimen with CW = 0.96 mm (Seifert, 2019).

Formica melanogastes: The shape and pigmentation characters reported suggest that it may belong to the color morph of C. lateralis mimicking Crematogaster scutellaris (Seifert, 2019).

Formica merula: It appears unlikely that a type specimen of Camponotus merula could ever be identified in a collection as the original description gives no type locality and its text and figure do not allow a reasonably safe allocation to a certain species. A total body length of 6 mm with a slender overall body shape and the ‘bilobe’ mesosoma (‘... bilobo, col lobo anteriore piu grande subrotonde...’) suggests a member of the Camponotus lateralis group. The chestnut-brown color (‘colore castagno intenso’) and occurrence on poplar trees plagued by aphids (‘..d‘onde percorre specialmente i pioppi dagli afidi travagliati.’) point to C. lateralis and make a synonymization with Camponotus piceus unlikely. As nobody is currently able to present counter-evidence, I synonymize C. merula with C. lateralis (Seifert, 2019).

Formica pallidinervis: This taxon has been described based on a male from Peloponnesus in Greece. The whereabouts of the type are unknown and the original description is insufficient – the more as males are generally poorly studied. The only possible conclusions seems to be that it is an ant of the subfamily Formicinae (Seifert, 2019).

Camponotus lateralis purius: Investigated were two worker syntypes from Algeria, stored in Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel, mounted on the same pin and labeled ‘Camponotus lateralis Ol. / v. purius Sant / SANTSCI det. 1928’, ‘Alger Bequaert’, ‘Type’, ‘CASENT 09111698’ [major worker], ‘ANTWEB CASENT 0911699’ [minor worker]. Considering all characters and running the syntypes as wild-cards in a 4-class LDA considering the four species presented in Tab. 2, they are allocated to the C. lateralis cluster with posterior probabilities of 0.9998 and 0.9974. A wild-card run of the syntypes within the C. lateralis cluster, allocated the major to morph 1 with p=0.998 but the minor to morph 2 with p = 0.986 (Seifert, 2019).

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.



Ionescu-Hirsch (2009) - TL = 3.9–7.0, HL = 0.98–1.80, HW = 0.84–1.68, EL = 0.26–0.37, SL = 1.02–1.29, ML = 1.46–2.23, PW = 0.64–1.07, mTbL = 0.70–1.04, hTbL = 0.96–1.45 (n = 5).


  • 2n = 28 (Switzerland) (Hauschteck, 1962).