This article was originally published in Transactions of the AES, volume 146.1.

Author: James K. Wetterer, Wilkes Honors College, Florida Atlantic University



The Neotropical carpenter ant Camponotus sexguttatus (Fabricius) has widespread records from the West Indies, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Across its broad native range,C. sexguttatus shows great variation, most notably in color, ranging from almost black to pale yellow. Non-native populations of C. sexguttatus were recorded for the first time in Florida in 1993, and in the Bahamas in 1995. Here, I examine the known native and non-native geographic distribution ofC. sexguttatus.

I compiled and mappedC. sexguttatus specimen records from >850 sites, including my own records from 583 sites. Camponotus sexguttatus has West Indian range from Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the VirginIslands in the Greater Antilles through all major islands of the Lesser Antilles. On at least ten islands of theLesser Antilles, two distinctly differentC. sexguttatus color morphs coexist, the typical dark brown/black form plus a lighter form, suggesting that there are at least two separate lines ofC. sexguttatus on these islands. Light forms have been previously described on four of these islands as three different subspecies.

Camponotus sexguttatus has a continental range from Mexico, through Central America, to subtropical parts of Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. Records from the northern parts of this range, however, are very sparse, e.g., just a single record each from Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, and no records from el Salvador. In addition to the typical C. sexguttatus, seven currently valid subspecies have been described from South America. Genetic analyses should examine whether the different subspecific forms in the West Indies and South America should be considered distinct species.

In its non-native range in peninsular Florida, C. sexguttatus is now known from 16 counties(Brevard, Broward, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, and St Lucie), where it is often one of the most common and conspicuous arboreal ants. Variation among C. sexguttatus populations in Florida suggest that they descend from introductions from at least two different source populations. In Bahamas, there are just five records of C. sexguttatus, all from New Providence. It is likely thatC. sexguttatus will continue to spread in Florida and the Bahamas, possibly impacting both native and non-native arboreal ants.


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