Introduction & Overview
I would recommend this species for ant-keepers already experienced with the patience of waiting for ants to finish their founding stage. Camponotus maritimus are especially sensitive to light, and I would caution against checking on them too much.
These large cowards are very fun to keep because of their unpredictable behavior and often comical actions. I also enjoy the challenge of keeping Camponotus I would consider to be "out of the norm."
Camponotus species can be separated from other formicine genera by their singular hump on the thorax. In North America, it shouldn't be difficult to distinguish Carpenter ants from other genera. Campontus vicinus are of the subgenus tanaemyrmex, and tanaemyrmex can be identified by usually being larger than myrmentoma, not having truncated (flat) heads, and having generally longer heads in the major workers. They also posses a ridge on the clypeus (area above manidbles).
Camponotus maritimus are most commonly misidentified as Camponotus vicinus. They are both black tanaemyrmex Carpenter ants, but can be distinguished when compared side by side. C. maritimus have a much more lustruous integument (exoskeleton), and they are slightly smaller in length to C. vicinus. C. maritimus also have generally shorter legs. (Reference Photo 5)
I would have recommended C. maritimus as a beginner's species if not for their sensitivity during the founding stage. Too much vibration or light, and the queens will readily eat their own brood. While the queens do calm down and settle a little more once their brood begins to pupate, C. maritimus should be left alone for first 3-4 weeks of the founding stage.
Infertile C. maritimus will usually be more active in cotton pulling and running around, but as all of the C. maritimus I've kept have had some level of this paranoid behavior, I would still not bother them until a month or two after they have been placed inside their setups. Infertile queens may still lay eggs.
Camponotus maritimus are fully claustral, and I would not feed C. maritimus at all during the founding stage. Feeding them requires bringing them out into the light and checking on them, which will only stress them out and potentially cause them to kill their brood. Queens are also very clumsy and often take more food than they can consume. I've had queens throw up on their brood and kill them in the past.
Too much heat can also cause C. maritimus to kill their brood. I've had some queens eat all of their eggs during heat waves. When the ambient temperature is above 80 fahrenheit, I usually turn off my heat cable as to not overheat them.
From my experience, Camponotus maritimus are not polygynous and I would advise against putting multiple queens together in the same tube.
Medium, with gradient
Most Camponotus species do not need a lot of humidity in order to produce brood. However, C. maritimus seems to be one of the more sensitive of Camponotus and will move around if their nest is not to their liking.
My Camponotus maritimus are more moisture loving compared to my other Camponotus and will often get as close to the cotton as they can. However, their brood still prefers drier climates as opposed to higher humidity, and the pupae can get severely damaged if their cocoon gets wet.
The one mistake I've noticed that happens most often is that C. maritimus end up getting overheated by enthusiastic ant-keepers. Their founding stage happens right around summer, which means if the ant-keepers are not mindful of heat, they will end up cooking their ants or causing a spillage inside the water tube. During Californian summers, heating often isn't necessary half the time, as the ambient temperature outside will be more than enough heat for C. maritimus brood to develop at a normal rate.
Time to first workers
6 weeks heated at 80f
Excessive checking and high heat
C. maritimus take a little longer than other Camponotus species to settle. They usually take up to a week before they become accustomed to their new habitats and begin to lay eggs. From my experience, they will pull on the cotton setup if their test tube is too hot and not to their liking. This is something I would watch out for, since they have severely damaged the cotton on their water reservoir in the past.
Tubs and tubes
Once the queens begin to develop workers, they will start to eat before producing more brood. The average nanitic batch size in C. maritimus out of my colonies was around 6 workers. They will accept sugar, but I would usually provide an outworld instead of just giving it to them, as if they are stressed when feeding, they will not try to eat.
- byFormica Sunburst Nectar
- Perky Pet Hummingbird Nectar (red)
- Sugar water (made from organic granulated sugar)
- Farmer's honey
- Fruits (apples and grapes from reputable sources that don't use pesticides; also, peel them)
I've heard people have trouble with food poisoning from the clear variety of Perky Pet Hummingbird Nectar, so I would stray away from feeding that to them. Sugar water is nice, but it doesn't have many preservatives, so it is more likely to encourage bacterial growth. Honey and fruits from disreputable sources may also be poisonous to the ants.
While adult workers do not need to consume much protein, as they have already stopped developing, their brood mainly feeds on protein to grow. I've fed a wide variety of different proteins to C. maritimus, but I find that their brood grows fastest when they are fed insects.
- Fruit flies (obtained through cultures)
- Frozen and cut up insects, including: crickets, mealworms, roaches, moths
- Meat (fed sparingly): chicken, beef, small fish, tuna
Freezing protein helps to kill any unwanted parasites, such as mites, which may hitch a ride on their hosts. It also makes it easier to cut the food up for feeding, as smaller colonies will not be able to finish an entire insect.
Having the ants run out and disappear is probably the worst thing that could happen, especially after months of patience and hard work invested into keeping these colonies. Fluon and pipe grease sealant will work well for Camponotus maritimus. I have noticed that they tend to be more cowardly when they have a larger outworld, and unless they are underfed, they will not try to escape too often.
Depending on the speed of colony growth, and whether you move them out of the setup, these ants may still be in their tubs and tubes setup during November. Camponotus maritimus do need some form of hibernation, and the reportedly most effective method I've heard of has been to place them in a wine cooler from November to early March or late February. Depending on the area the C. maritimus were caught in, taking them off heat may suffice.
Within a year of capture, the fastest C. maritimus colonies can reach about 40-50 workers. At around this time, they are at the stage where they can be moved into a formicarium or larger tub and tubes setup. C. maritimus become less cowardly when they are larger, and at this time, I would definitely make sure to begin lining outworlds with fluon to prevent escapees.
Most of their brood does not require very high humidity, so once the colony reaches over a hundred workers, I would consider moving them into a TarheelAnts Fortress or an AntsCanada Camponotus hybrid nest. Both of these would give the ants some space to grow until they are ready for a much larger setup.
Larger colonies of C. maritimus seem to have a more developed and structured circadian rhythm. These ants will be strictly nocturnal unless they are hungry, and will mostly stay inside their nests during the day. I would also experiment with heating more once the colonies of Camponotus maritimus grow larger to find out the exact gradient that they prefer. C. maritimus are among the faster growing Camponotus and can get to the thousands within the third or fourth year if maintained correctly.
In the wild, Camponotus maritimus colonies nest under the ground, and they would be a good species to make a vivarium for once they get large enough. This would give them more space to forage.
C. maritimus are strictly Californian ants. They are not found anywhere else. Ant-keepers only recently began to keep Camponotus maritimus, although this may be because they could have been misidentified for Camponotus vicinus.
I would like to thank everyone who read this journal and I hope this journal provided some source of information or entertainment and sparked your interest in Camponotus maritimus.