Camponotus modoc

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Camponotus modoc
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Camponotini
Genus: Camponotus
Species: C. modoc
Binomial name
Camponotus modoc
Wheeler, W.M., 1910

Camponotus modoc casent0005347 profile 1.jpg

Camponotus modoc casent0005347 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Nests in rotten logs and stumps, or rarely under stones. They may also nest in the wood of buildings, especially log cabins in forested areas.

Photo Gallery

  • Worker tending aphids (Cinara species) on low vegetation, Packer Saddle, California. Photo by Tom Murray.


The majors, minors, and females of this species are predominantly black, dull ants, with slightly reddish legs and funiculi. The scapes are without erect hairs (except at the apex), the hairs on the clypeus are located mostly along the borders, the dorsal and ventral surface of the head have few erect hairs, the cheeks and sides of the head are without erect hairs. Most surfaces have golden, appressed hairs, which are scarce on the head and mesosoma, and slightly more abundant on the gaster, where at least a few of the hairs overlap adjacent hairs. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)

Wheeler (1910) - I would regard California as the type locality of modoc, which is the location where it seems to be rather constant. The specimens from Utah and South Dakota have paler and somewhat longer pubescence and therefore form a transition to pennsylvanicus. All of my specimens, however, show that there is little difficulty in separating this form from whymperi (= Camponotus herculeanus). In the northern and western portion of its range, it seems to descend to lower levels than this form, but in the mountains of New Mexico it seems to occur in the same stations.


Southwestern Canada, western United States. Mexico, Chihuahua and Nuevo León.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: Canada, United States (type locality).
Neotropical Region: Mexico.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Mackay and Mackay (2002), in New Mexico: Found in forested areas, ranging from deciduous through pinyon pine and ponderosa pine, pine-spruce-popular and spruce forests up to subalpine fir (2490 - 3000 meters altitude). Brood and reproductives occurred in nests from June to September, dealate females were found from July to October. Workers escape with brood when the nest is disturbed, and are preyed on by members of the Formica rufa species complex. One colony was nesting together with Formica argentea, another with Formica hewitti, a third with Formica neoclara. Another colony was together with Tapinoma sessile.

Nevada, Wheeler and Wheeler (1986) - C. modoc is strictly a montane ant: 59 records were from the Coniferous Forest Biome, 7 were from the ecotone above, and 3 were from the Alpine. We have nest data for only 18 colonies: all were nesting in rotten wood. Medias and minors were found tending aphids on small pine branches. Steller's jays (Cyanocitta stelleri) and robins (Turdus migratorius) fed on sexual forms during a mating flight on 18 July in the Coniferous Forest Biome. The myrmecophile Xenodusa reflexa (Walker) (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae; del. L.M. Chilson) was taken in a nest.

Flight Period

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Association with Other Organisms

  • This species is a host for the Microdon fly Microdon albicomatus (a predator) in Idaho (type), Washington (Novak, 1977).
  • This species is a host for the Microdon fly Microdon piperi (a predator) in Oregon, Montana, Washington (type) (Knab, 1917).




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

  • modoc. Camponotus (Camponotus) herculeanus var. modoc Wheeler, W.M. 1910d: 333 (s.w.q.m.) U.S.A. Combination in C. (Camponotus): Emery, 1925b: 72. Subspecies of pennsylvanicus: Creighton, 1950a: 369; of herculeanus: Brown, 1950d: 158. Raised to species: Hunt & Snelling, R.R. 1975: 22; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1426; Mackay, Lowrie, et al. 1988: 104 (in key).

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



Major and minor. Differing from Camponotus whymperi (= Camponotus herculeanus) in sculpture, pilosity and color. The shagreening of the head is coarser, so that it is even more opaque, especially on the sides and posterior corners. The punctures of the gaster are larger and the whole surface rougher and more opaque. Hairs and pubescence golden yellow, the former much as in whymperi, except that they are shorter and more appressed on the scapes and tibie. The pubescence is much longer and more conspicuous. especially on the upper surface of the gaster, but decidedly shorter than in Camponotus pennsylvanicus. Head, thorax, petiole and gaster black; legs deep red. Coxae dark brown; antennae varying from black to dark brown, the funiculus usually somewhat paler than the scape. In the worker media and minor, the mandibles may be tinged with red.


Closely resembling the, worker major in sculpture, color and pilosity. The thorax differs from that of the female whymperi in being opaque and densely shagreened, except the scutellum and metanotum, which are smooth and shining. In some specimens, the mesonotum is subopaque, but not as smooth as in whymperi.


Indistinguishable from the male of whymperi.

Type Material

Numerous specimens collected from a variety of US states. Despite the range of locations Wheeler stated California is the type locality.


  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1950f. The status of two common North American Carpenter ants. Entomol. News 61: 157-161 (page 158, Subspecies of herculeanus)
  • Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 369, Subspecies of pennsylvanicus)
  • Emery, C. 1925e. I Camponotus (Myrmentoma) paleartici del gruppo lateralis. Rend. Sess. R. Accad. Sci. Ist. Bologna Cl. Sci. Fis. (n.s.) 29: 62-72 (page 72, Combination in C. (Camponotus))
  • Hunt, J. H.; Snelling, R. R. 1975. A checklist of the ants of Arizona. J. Ariz. Acad. Sci. 10: 20-23 (page 22, raised to species)
  • MacKay, W. P.; Lowrie, D.; Fisher, A.; MacKay, E. E.; Barnes, F.; Lowrie, D. 1988. The ants of Los Alamos County, New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pp. 79-131 in: Trager, J. C. (ed.) Advances in myrmecology. Leiden: E. J. Brill, xxvii + 551 pp. (page 104, Raised to species (in key))
  • Mackay, W. P. and E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY.
  • Smith, D. R. 1979. Superfamily Formicoidea. Pp. 1323-1467 in: Krombein, K. V., Hurd, P. D., Smith, D. R., Burks, B. D. (eds.) Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico. Volume 2. Apocrita (Aculeata). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Pr (page 1426, raised to species)
  • Wheeler, G. C. and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1910g. The North American ants of the genus Camponotus Mayr. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 20: 295-354 (page 333, soldier, worker, queen, male described)