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Introduction & Overview

This is a great species to start with, they are easy-going and can get huge colonies. I recommend this species to beginners and even well-experienced keepers, they are just a good solid species to keep, there really is nothing wrong with them.


Some challenges would sometimes be their difficulty in the founding stage and if you're not patient then their slow growth could be an issue. Their population usually stays under the 100's their first few years, then increases in their 2nd or 3rd year. Colony growth will determine if you're in tropical or temperate regions.


Camponotus don't have super majors as some people tend to think, they just have really polymorphic majors that can compete with the queen in size. They also need to go through a diapause period (hibernation). This is optional but will result in poorer health conditions and a shorter life span for the colony. they will also just go into diapause anyways.

Common Name

Black Carpenter Ant

Queen Size

18 mm

Worker Size

8 mm


Beginner Friendly
Fully Claustral
Major Caste

🛠️ Help Requested

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Queen Identification

The majors of this species are most commonly mistaken for their queens. They are easily distinguishable as the queens have a plateaued mesosoma and large gasters.

The species can be confused with other common species such as Camponotus modoc, Camponotus herculeanus, Camponotus chromaiodes, Camponotus novaeboracensis.

Founding setup

This species tends to have a high failure rate during founding. If a queen is not fertile, she will most likely have scattered eggs and possibly still wings. There is no 100% way to tell if a queen is fertile until first-generation workers arrive. They are oligogynous and only found with 1 queen. This species likes tight spaces, as most ants do, and are fine in a test tube setup. Even if she can hardly turn around in the test tube it is still suitable as that is how they make their claustral chambers in nature.


This species lays in batches and you should only expect 0-10 workers their first year, there are exceptions where they can get up to 30 workers, temperate populations will always be slower than sub-tropical and tropical populations. You can feed the queen during founding, it won't really do anything other than just a free meal, but it's recommended to just leave her be.


This species needs to go through diapause, just follow a diapause for ants guide and you should be good. (keep at 45F in late October or early November and take them out early spring)


78f(26), in a gradient


Low, with a gradient. You can add substrate so the pupae can use it so spin with, this will decrease visibility to almost nothing though.

Since they nest in wood, they like their surroundings relatively dry. If it is too wet the nest may start to condensate and the colony will move out or drown. If it is too cold it will take many months for the brood to develop, as it should take 4-8 weeks when heated to 78-82F. If it is too hot then the colony may not care, but will most likely condensate and result in bad living conditions, and even fatal in some scenarios.

Time to first workers

4-6 weeks heated to around 80F and 2-3 months unheated

Sensitivity concerns

Condensation build up, which would cause stress.

Founding queens tend to pick at the cotton in tubes, this is common and will stop after the first few days. Leave her alone for a few weeks. This species can get adjusted to the light, so leaving her in indirect sunlight with a day/night cycle will be good. Egg to worker time can vary quite a bit in Camponotus. As long as they aren't stressed, and properly heated then it should take 4-6 weeks.

Tubs and tubes

This species has no other special care for a tubs and tubes setup other than that they are escape artists and will find a weakness in any barrier you use. They can walk up vaseline, PTFE, and talc powder alcohol mixture, and olive oil has had varying success I recommend you do not move them to tubs and tubes set up for this reason. They are perfectly suitable in a tube for a long time (when workers escape when feeding and constantly picking at cotton is a good sign you should move them.)


Always make sure they have access to sugars most of the time and feed every 2-3 when the first nanitics harden or a week after they eclose from their pupae.


Move them in a small formicarium or add an outworld to their tube when it gets hard to feed them. Make sure it is not too big for them. Keep the nest dry, but not bone dry. They can happily live in acrylic nests that have any hydration issues (poor hydration and gets too wet.)


This is one of the most studied species of ant and the first North American ant to be described. This species is very popular for beginners to keep and are a common pest.

Final Thoughts

Thank you to OiledOlives#4009 or OiledOlives for reviewing the care sheet.


Thank you to Acrux#5393 or Max Hike for some amazing pictures he took of C. penn.

Camponotus pennsylvanicus

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