Author: Joe A. MacGown
Species in this genus are variable in size with workers ranging in size from 3.0 to 15 mm or more in length and queens (also referred to as females) of some species attaining a length of 19 mm or more. Many species are polymorphic. Workers have a 12-segmented antenna that lacks an apical club. Antennal fossae do not touch the posterior border of the clypeus. Ocelli are not present on the heads of workers. The workers of most species have an indistinct metanotal suture between the promesonotum and the propodeum, although this suture is present in C. sexguttatus and some members of the subgenus Colobopsis. Those species that lack the obvious and deep metanotal suture have the shape of the alitrunk in a smoothly curved arc (as seen in profile).
Camponotus conspicuus inaequalis is in the subgenus Tanaemyrmex, which differs from the other carpenter ant subgenera by having a median carina present on the clypeus. The status of this species is unclear. Historically, specimens of this species from the US have been identified as C. tortuganus, but after closer examination by Mark Deyrup (per. com. Mark Deyrup, Archbold Biological Station), noted that C. c. inaequalis. was also present in southern Florida.
Taxonomic History (Bolton 2016)
The status of this species is unclear. In 1863, Roger described C. inaequalis from Cuba. Later, in 1895, Emery described C. maculatus tortuganus from a specimen collected by Pergande in the Dry Tortugas. Forel (1914) sunk C. inaequalis to a subspecies of C. conspicuuus. Wheeler (1923) raised C. tortuganus to species. From that point onward until 1988 (Deyrup et al. 1988), specimens collected in Florida were called C. tortuganus. However, Deyrup et al. (1988) discovered specimens in the Florida Keys whose striped coloration matched C. c. inaequalis. Specimens resembling typical C. tortuganus were also collected in the Keys. According to Deyrup (Pers. Comm.), numerous specimens with C. c. inaequalis and C. tortuganus-inaequalis coloration have been collected in Florida since approximately 1965. Wetterer and O'Hara (2002) stated that the holotype collected by Pergande was actually labeled as being from the Bahamas, rather than from the Dry Tortugas. Further, in the Wetterer and O'Hara (2002) publication, they stated that specimens identified from Florida as C. tortuganus were actually C. conspicuus zonatus Emery, 1894. This seems unlikely, as C. c. zonatus has a Central American distribution. Future genetic work could be useful in more definitive identifications of this group in the USA. Based on Deyrup's collections (Pers. Comm.), its seems likely that both C. tortuganus and C. c. inaequalis may be present in Florida and that these two species may be interbreeding forming a hybrid. Alternatively, C. tortuganus and C. c. inaequalis could actually represent variations of the same species, in which case the name C. c. inaequalis would have priority. Currently, we recognize both species as being present in Floridae.
It seems much more likely that specimens from Florida include both C. c. inaequalis and C. tortuganus and these two species sometimes hybridize, which would account the variable color forms or C. inaequalis and C. tortuganus represent one variable species, in which case the name C. c. inaequalis would have priority.
Biology and Economic Importance
Neotropical Region: Cuba (AntWeb data)
U.S. Distribution: Florida (Mark Deyrup, pers. comm.)
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