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Species: Camponotus (Tanaemyrmex) variegatus   (Smith, 1858) 

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Current Valid Name:

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2023)

Extant: 15 valid subspecies

Formica variegata Smith, 1858a PDF: 19 (w.q.) SRI LANKA. Indomalaya. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Combination in Camponotus: Mayr, 1862 PDF: 656.


Camponotus variegatus is a large yellowish brown species most easily recognized by the posterior margins of gastral tergites which are marked by subtriangular, medium brown infuscations that contrast sharply with the anterior portions of the tergites. The species is likely part of a taxonomically unresolved complex native to Southeast Asia (Wilson & Taylor, 1967), where many of the infraspecific taxa were described from (Bolton et al., 2006). It has established introduced populations across all of  Hawaiis main islands, and some of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. In Hawaii it is considered a  pest species, and is found nesting in and around houses (Forel, 1899; Reimer et al., 1990).

// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: United States
    Asia: Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey
    Oceania: Australia, Hawaii, Micronesia
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):
    Australasia, Indomalaya, Oceania, Palearctic
  Native to (according to species list records):
    Indomalaya bioregion

Distribution Notes:

Native range. Asia.
Introduced range. Hawaii (all main islands, and some of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands).


The first record of the ants in Hawaii was published by Forel (1899) under the unavailable quadrinomial Camponotus maculatus r. mitis var. hawaiensis. The first available name given to these ants was Camponotus variegatus subsp. hawaiensis Emery. Wilson and Taylor (1967), realizing that the Hawaii population was likely recently derived from the introduction of an Asian species, synonymized C. variegatus subsp. hawaiensis with Camponotus variegatus (Smith, F.).

Reimer (1994) reported that Camponotus variegatus has only been collected in dry and mesic areas below 500 m where it is quite common, but qualifies the known distribution by noting that its nocturnal activity reduces the chances of detection during daytime surveys (the species is the only exclusively nocturnal ant species in Hawaii). Wheelers (1934) collection from Hawaii at 1300 m suggests the species may have been more widespread at higher elevations prior to the introduction of other ant species.


Diagnosis among workers of introduced and commonly intercepted ants in the United States. Worker caste polymorphic. Antenna 12-segmented. Antennal club indistinct. Antennal scape length less than 1.5x head length. Eyes medium to large (greater than 5 facets); lacking distinct ocelli. Antennal sockets and posterior clypeal margin separated by a distance equal to or greater than the minimum width of antennal scape. Head length longer than head width. Propodeum and petiolar node both lacking a pair of short teeth. Propodeum not angulate and lacking a distinct dorsal and posterior face; also lacking posteriorly projecting protrusion. Metapleuron lacking a distinct gland orifice. Waist 1-segmented. Petiole upright and not appearing flattened. Gaster armed with acidopore; variegated with dark transverse bands running near posterior margins of tergites that contrast with the paler yellow of the rest of gaster and body. Distinct constriction not visible between abdominal segments 3+4. Hairs not long thick and produced in pairs. Erect hairs relatively sparse on head and mesosoma.

Camponotus variegatus is diagnosed from other members of the genus introduced or commonly intercepted in the United States by the following characters: (1) metanotal groove not distinctly impressed (versus C. sexguttatus); ); (2) long erect hairs sparse on head and mesosoma (versus abundant in C. atriceps and C. planatus); (3) propodeum not angulate and lacking a distinct dorsal and posterior face (versus C. rectangularis); (4) gaster variegated with dark transverse bands running near posterior margins of tergites that contrast with the paler yellow of the rest of gaster and body (versus with distinct whitish spots (some C. sexguttatus) or concolorous (all others)).


Emery, C. (1920) Studi sui Camponotus. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital., 52, 3-48.

Forel, A. (1899) Heterogyna (Formicidae). Fauna Hawaii., 1, 116-122.

Reimer, N., Beardsley, J.W. & Jahn, G. (1990) Pest ants in the Hawaiian islands. In: Vander Meer, R.K., Jaffe, K. & Cedeno, A. (Eds.) Applied myrmecology: a world perspective. Westview Press, Boulder.  xv + 741 p., pp. 40-50.

Reimer, N.J. (1994) Distribution and impact of alien ants in vulnerable Hawaiian ecosystems. In: Williams, D.F. (Ed.) Exotic ants. Biology, impact, and control of introduced species. Westview Press, Boulder.  xvii + 332 p., pp. 11-22.

Smith, F. (1879) Descriptions of new species of aculeate Hymenoptera collected by the Rev. Thos. Blackburn in the Sandwich Islands. J. Linn. Soc. Lond. Zool., 14, 674-685.

Ward, D.F. (2007) The distribution and ecology of invasive ant species in the Pacific Region. PhD thesis, in Biological Sciences, The
University of Auckland, xiii + 173 p.

Wheeler, W.M. (1934) Revised list of Hawaiian ants. Occas. Pap. Bernice P. Bishop Mus., 10, 1-21.

Wilson, E.O. & Taylor, R.W. (1967) The ants of Polynesia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pac. Insects Monogr., 14, 1-109.

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Camponotus maculato-sylvaticus   Forel, A., 1886, Études myrmécologiques en 1886., Annales de la Societe Entomologique de Belgique 30, pp. 131-215: 13, (download) 13 3923
Camponotus variegatus   Mayr, G., 1862, Myrmecologische Studien., Verhandlungen der Zoologisch-Botanischen Gesellschaft in Wien 12, pp. 649-776: 656-657, (download) 656-657 4445

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 1 times found in Kaimuki residence.

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times in kitchen, 1 times roadside near entrance station.

Elevations: collected from 5 - 60 meters, 41 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1976-08-16 00:00:00.0 and 2008-03-30 00:00:00.0

Type specimens: syntype of Camponotus variegatus: casent0903586, casent0903587; Type of unavailable quadrinomial: Camponotus maculatus mitis hawaiensis: casent0910170

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