Hercules ant

Hercules ant

Hercules ant

( Latin: Camponotus herculeanus )

This very large ant occurs on the continent of Europe, but not in Britain. The nest is normally built in timber, sometimes in a living tree, occasionally in timber in the home. These ants prefer conifers, but they sometimes also live in various deciduous trees. In living trees the nests can be found up to a height of 10 m from the ground. The ants gnaw their tunnels in the soft spring wood, and leave the summer wood alone, so that in a transverse section of the tree trunk the tunnels appear as numerous regular rings. In a longitudinal section the summer wood remains as a series of lamellae, pierced here and there by openings which connect the different tunnels.

There have been cases where whole nests of Hercules ants have been built in with the timber of a new house, and in forest areas they sometimes enter and become established in a house.

This is one of the ant species in which a single mated queen can found a completely new colony. The species is sometimes a serious pest in Central Europe and in parts of Scandinavia.