Written by Michael Borden
This is a care sheet that I put together regarding the species of Carpenter Ant native to the state of Florida known as Camponotus floridanus (The Florida Carpenter Ant). It contains facts from FSU and from my years of personal experience with this species. Please enjoy the care sheet.
Scientific Name: Camponotus floridanus
Common Name(s): Florida Carpenter Ant
Average Size In Millimeters:
Workers are polymorphic and vary in size.
Minor Worker: 5.5mm-7mm
Major Worker: 8mm-12mm
Southeastern United States
Primarily abundant in the state of Florida.
Queen Founding Method:
Monogyne (One Queen Per Colony)
Flights occur from mid April into late August after a rainfall on warm humid evenings. Mating takes place in flight during late evenings until sunrise.
Primary Diet: Wild & Captive Colonies
Carbohydrates- Sugar water, maple syrup, honey, junk foods, soda, fruit juices, insect honeydew, and nectar.
Proteins- Living & dead insects, softened meats, hard boiled egg yolk, liquid protein syrup, bone marrow and soft dog food/treats.
Temperature In Captivity:
75-77 degrees farenheit for cool side, and 81-86 degrees fahrenheit for warm side is optimal.
Camponotus floridanus are sub-tropical and like a certain amount of heat. A 15 watt reptile heating cable applied to one side of the nest is sufficient. I dont recommend temperatures above 88 degrees due to chance of killing your ants. Half the nest should remain cool so the ants can adjust when needed.
Camponotus floridanus require humidity for hydration, and proper growth of their brood. 40-55% humidity on one portion of the nest is sufficient. Water towers are great devices to help balance humidity. Watch for signs of mold or excessive condensation buildup. Buy and place a hydrometer for accurate humidity reading in nest.
Not an aggressive species unless disturbed. Both minor and major workers are capable of biting. Major workers have been known to draw blood at times, due to large powerful mandibles. Camponotus Ants spray formic acid from their abdomen into the bite wounds they inflict. Direct contact on skin can cause redness, itching, swelling, burning, and pain.
Difficulty Rating: Easy
An easy species for beginners. Carpenter Ants are a hardy, slow growing, light tolerant species. Being a larger species of ant, novice keepers can view the lifecycle and the actual inner workings much easier.
Additional Observations/Personal Notes:
1. If exposed to formic acid from your ants, wash the area thoroughly with warm water and soap. Take over the counter benadryl or ibuprofen to treat mild symptoms. Seek a physician if symptoms worsen.
2. Camponotus floridanus can chew through many materials such as soft wood, soft plastics, cork, cloth, and soft rubber materials. They however can not chew through glass, metal, ceramic, soft clay, cement, and plexiglass.
3. Formic acid utilized by Camponotus Ants have several uses such as subduing prey, defensive tactics, and a sanitizing method which helps kill fungal, bacterial, and parasitic microorganisms.
4. Carpenter Ants are a eusocial insect that possess two stomachs. One stomach is for themselves, and the second stomach stores extra food reserves to feed brood and other colony members.
5. Camponotus floridanus do not require a hibernation period. Florida’s varying cold spells temporarily slow colony activity until outside temperatures are optimal.
6. DO NOT place live crickets in your nest when feeding your ants. A cricket is capable of inflicting a fatal kick to workers (Especially nanatics). Pre-kill crickets before giving to your ants or remove the crickets hind legs.
7. Ventilation is crucial for a Camponotus floridanus colony. Ventilation helps prevent mold growth and accessive formic acid build-up within the nest. Vinyl tubing can act as fresh air vents. You can use a stainless steel faucet screen to prevent escape through the tubes.
8. Camponotus floridanus is one of the two largest native Carpenter Ant species found within the United States. The other species is Camponotus pennsylvanicus. Both species been documented having queens reaching 20mm or more in length. The Queen can live for 10-12 years.