The Camponotus Modoc is usually referred to as the “Western Carpenter Ant”. This species is very common in the western part of Northern America and preferably nests in rotten wood.
If you live in the western part of Canada or on the West Coast in the US and you see a really big, black ant, it is most likely the Camponotus Modoc.
It is not only the biggest ant species in these regions, it is also the fastest-growing species. In places where the Camponotus Modoc is native, the species is known and feared for nesting in human houses.
Carpenter ants, such as the Camponotus Modoc enjoy sweet liquids. They tend aphids to obtain honeydew and collect floral nectar. They also prey on small invertebrates and go for all kinds of liquid sweets in houses such as syrup, honey, sweet drinks, and also animal food.
The Camponotus Modoc mostly forages at night, but they are also diurnal predators.
Camponotus Modoc in captivity can be fed with a mixture of honey and water, sugar water, protein jelly, honeydew extract, and also sweet fruits such as apples and watermelon.
You should also feed your Camponotus Modoc insects that provide some protein such as crickets, fruit flies, mealworms, or termites.
The Camponotus Modoc enjoys slightly higher temperatures of 25-28 degrees Celsius
and compared to other ant species, they can endure extremely cold temperatures during their winter pause.
This carpenter ant species prefers a normal humidity level of around 30% – 50%, which is just about the humidity level in human houses.
But they are very forgiving and are not too sensitive if the humidity is a bit too high or too low.
The Camponotus Modoc is the biggest species in Western Canada and probably even in the western part of the US.
The queen is around 20mm large, while the workers range from 6mm to 20mm. There are minor and major workers and the major workers can easily be mistaken for the queen due to their size.
All ants of this species have a black body and dark red legs.
Just like all other ants that live in areas with warmer summer and freezing winter, the Camponotus Modoc hibernates during the winter months. In captivity, it is not completely necessary but recommended. It also gives you a nice break and keeps the ant-keeping hobby exciting. Hibernation can also lead to a longer life.
Queen – Reproduction
In the wild, colonies often start with multiple queens. In captivity, that is also possible, but it can happen, that the queens start killing each other, therefore it is recommended to rather start a colony with only one queen. They start the colony fully claustral, which means that they don’t need to be fed within the first few months when the queen is laying the first bunch of eggs.
The Camponotus Modoc is the fastest-growing carpenter ant species. The colonies can be huge in the wild and often have several nests with multiple queens.
This carpenter ant species performs its nuptial flight during April and July. The weather has to be dry and warm, and it is more likely to see them flying after a rainy day.
The Camponotus Modoc is mainly native in the western part of Canada, in the west of the US, and in Mexico.
It can be found in many locations such as near sea level, in forests, thickest, on grasslands, and basically wherever rotten wood can be found. They nest preferably under bark, in logs, dead trees, and rotten wood in general. They are rarely found under stones or rocks.
They are often seen as pests because they tend to nest in any rotten wood they find, and that can include human houses.
When Camponotus Modoc ants choose a human home to nest in, they will start digging tunnels in the wood and cause a lot of damage to the house. In most cases, only a small amount of carpenter ants invade the house in the beginning, but that number will grow to several tens of thousand ants. A Camponotus Modoc colony can have up to 20 or even more satellite colonies around its main nest.
Overall Difficulty Rating
The Camponotus Modoc is closely related to the Camponotus Herculeanus and genetically similar to the Camponotus Pennsylvanicus. It can be distinguished by the length of the setae on the thorax (= mesosoma).
The colony can grow quickly which can be an advantage for impatient ant keepers, but it can also be a disadvantage as the colony might get out of control.
The Camponotus Modoc is not too sensitive to temperature and humidity, the ants are really big, which makes ant watching very exciting, but as a beginner ant keeper, you have to be very careful that they don’t escape because Camponotus Modoc can cause disastrous damage to a house.