Saturday, June 12, 2010

Carpenter Ant


 This large, black ant is familiar to most all of us, it is the Carpenter Ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus). They are found throughout the United States and Canada. In our area these are the biggest ants we see, they reach lengths up to 3/4 of an inch, the queen is larger. Finding them is no problem they seem to be everywhere you look, gardens, parks, backyards all will be home to these large ants. They are a Rural, Urban and Suburban species and can adapt quite well to most any environment.  Adults feed on nectar, honeydew, fruit juices and other insects as is this picture. This large predator is feeding on a poor little Hollyhock Weevil.  Look at the size of that ant in comparison to the weevil. It must look like the Godzilla of insects to that tiny beetle. Even though they are aggressive hunters, sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted. These ants are an important food source for woodpeckers, especially Pileated Woodpeckers which have been observed excavating and consuming entire colonies. Other birds and animals will also prey on them. 

After mating, the queen will lay eggs and these eggs hatch in about 3 weeks. It will take them an additional 3 weeks to reach full size and pupate. Once the adults emerge they will take over the care of future offspring produced by the queen. The larvae are fed chewed up bits of insects and sugary substances. All eggs laid by the queen will be females (workers). In a few years the colony will contain 1,000's of members. When the colony becomes too overpopulated hundreds of winged females called alates will leave the colony to mate and start their own colonies far away from their original home. This usually takes place in late summer or early fall. 

6 comments:

  1. What an amazing photograph. Poor little weevil. Fascinating info. Thanks!

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  2. Thank you Bio, I know, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the little weevil too.

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  3. Thank you Geek, this was one of those "being at the right place at the right time photos" If you notice in the photo the little weevils were busy.....if you know what I mean....LOL I guess even getting eaten doesn't deter one when trying to add to the ever growing numbers of weevils.

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  4. fabulous!!!!!! and yes i feel badly for the weevil too :( unfortunately the carpenter ant is a hungry fellow.. carpenter ants are good and bad, bad when they are in my house, and good when they are out in the forest!

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  5. Thanks Garlic....I have always been fascinated by the carpenter ants, seems I am always seeing them chowing down on some poor unsuspecting victim. Fortunately I don't see them in my house very often, I just get the odorous house ants and sometimes those real tiny ants.

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