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24 April 2020 Geographic Distribution of Camponotus sexguttatus (Hymenoptera, Formicidae), a Neotropical Carpenter Ant Spreading in Florida
James K. Wetterer
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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 of C. sexguttatus.

I compiled and mapped C. 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 Virgin Islands in the Greater Antilles through all major islands of the Lesser Antilles. On at least ten islands of the Lesser Antilles, two distinctly different C. sexguttatus color morphs coexist, the typical dark brown/black form plus a lighter form, suggesting that there are at least two separate lines of C. 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 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 that C. sexguttatus will continue to spread in Florida and the Bahamas, possibly impacting both native and non-native arboreal ants.

James K. Wetterer "Geographic Distribution of Camponotus sexguttatus (Hymenoptera, Formicidae), a Neotropical Carpenter Ant Spreading in Florida," Transactions of the American Entomological Society 146(1), 239-250, (24 April 2020).
Published: 24 April 2020
biological invasion
exotic range
geographic range
native range
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