My cat found this large black ant (Rogers, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)

Hi guys,

Im from Hamilton Ontario in Canada. My cat found this ant walking up the wall in my kitchen. I apologise for the goopy mess but when she caught it I smucked it afraid with the chompers on that thing that she'd get bit!!! Ive never seen an ant this big and at first thought it was a wasp without wings albeit a bit smaller than a wasp. Can you tell me a bit about it please?? Thanks

Dear Rogers:

This is a recently mated female (would have gone on to become the queen/mother/reproductive center of a new colony) of what we in the ant biz call Camponotus pennsylvanicus, a.k.a. Eastern Black Carpenter Ant.

This is a very common ant in the deciduous forests of eastern North America, and also well adapted to the human habitat of parks, yards, and urban green spaces. Occasionally, they inhabit the wood of buildings that has been damaged by water and begun to soften, but their preferred nesting space is in a stump or in dead limbs or trunk of a living tree. They are generalist feeders, preying on other insects, and eating naturally occurring sweets such as fallen fruit, nectar from glands or secreted by glands on other parts of plants, or honeydew, a sweet waste product of sap-sucking insects. In the human habitat, they have the additional resources of picnic scraps, candy wrappers, and such. Though they forage around the clock, their peak activity is in the warmer, early night hours. 

Most ants start new colonies by means of a queen such as this one raising her first brood of a few, small worker ants, unaided and often without eating, while feeding the larvae a glandular secretion (analogous to the milk of mammals, but produced by salivary glands). During this period of weeks to months of single motherhood, the young queen lives off the abundant body fat (the whitish goo of your squished individual) and the re-absorbed wing muscles that she would never use for flight, following breaking off the wings after her mating flight.

Thanks for writing to the AntBlog,
James C. Trager & the AntAsk Team

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