The Camponotus Herculeanus is a very popular species that is widely available and native in many parts of the world. This type of carpenter ant is active during day and night and prefers to nest under or in wood, in tree trunks, and under rocks. The Camponotus Herculeanus is a fairly big ant species with major workers that are up to 2 cm long.
The Camponotus Herculeanus, Camponotus Ligniperda, and Camponotus Vagus are closely related and have similarities in their appearance. Therefore these species are often mixed up. But they live in different habitats and when the queens are put beside each other, the differences can be seen.
In captivity, the Camponotus Herculeanus mostly feeds on syrup and a mixture of honey and water as well as other liquids such as sugar water, protein jelly, honeydew extract, and sweet, juicy fruits such as watermelons or apples.
In addition to the liquids, you should also offer them a source of protein by offering your ants insects such as mealworms, fruit flies, crickets, or super worms.
In nature they pursue trophobiosis. That means that they build a symbiosis with other living creatures such as aphids, and feed on the honeydew they produce.
They also eat smaller parts of insects but mainly go for sweet liquids of all kinds.
The Camponotus Herculeanus is very impressive when it comes to surviving extremely cold temperatures. It is in fact the only ant species known, that can survive a temperature of below -40° C. This does not mean, that the formicarium or the fridge during the winter pause needs that kind of temperature.
The formicarium should have a normal temperature of around 18° C to 28°C. Additional heating is not necessary. The nest should have a temperature of 21° C to 24° C.
The formicarium should be in a spot without direct sunlight because that can heat up a glass tank very quickly and you don’t want to bake your ant colony.
Like most Camponotus ant species, the Camponotus Herculeanus prefers a normal humidity of around 30% – 50% in the formicarium and slightly higher humidity of 50% – 60% in their nest.
The Camponotus Herculeanus is a black ant with dark red or brown shades on the lower end of its thorax.
The species is polymorph which means that there are worker ants of different sizes. The minor workers are usually under 10mm, while the major workers can grow up to 20mm. The queen is usually around 13mm to 17mm in length, while the males are around 8mm to 12mm in length.
The Camponotus Herculeanus hibernates for 5 to 6 months. The nest is completely closed for this period of time. Most Camponotus Herculeanus ants hibernate between October and February.
Queen – Reproduction
This species is mostly monogynous, which means that a new colony starts with only one queen ant. On some rare occasions, a colony starts with more than one queen. During the first few months, the development is fully claustral, which means that the queen will stay in one place with no food or drink, and lay eggs.
The colony growth is rather fast for Camponotus species but compared to other ant species medium to slow-growing. The colony size can grow huge in the wild with several 10.000 individual ants. The size can be controlled in captivity by limiting the space and not increasing the amount of food.
The nuptial flights take place from May to July.
The ants have several flight dates. In the first round, only the male drones fly, the next flights are for the young queens. Most Camponotus Herculeanus fly when temperatures are above 25° C and the weather is dry. Most flights take place in the late afternoon or early evening.
The Camponotus Herculeanus is one of the biggest ants that is native to Europe. The ants can be found in alpine environments, preferably above 1000m of altitude. The species is native to most of Europe, several Asian countries, and most of Canada and the US.
The ants live in forests and nest in tree trunks. Bigger colonies tend to nest in several tree trunks that are connected by underground tunnels. The trees are gnawed out from the inside. Therefore the Camponotus Herculeanus is seen as a pest if the population gets very big.
Overall Difficulty Rating
The Camponotus Herculeanus is a rather big ant species with a slow colony growth. It makes a good beginner’s pet ant and is widely available online in most countries.
Due to their bigger size, curious ant keepers will not be disappointed as the ants are easy to see. The Camponotus Herculeanus can be aggressive, but only if the ants feel like their nest is in danger. In that case, they will attack by biting and also using their poison.