Answer to the Monday Night Mystery: Camponotus rufipes

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What was the looming mass of entomological detritus? Here’s the culprit:

Camponotus rufipes, one of Brazil's largest and most abundant ants.

As Gabriela- who we had the great pleasure to meet during our travels- so aptly guessed, the mystery mound was a nest of Camponotus rufipes. Here’s a clearer shot of the same nest, taken on the campus of the Universidade Federal de Viçosa:

Incidentally, the Brazilian pronunciation of “rufipes” (“HOOF-ih-pees”) made me giggle every time I heard it, as though the soft R took the edge off one of the continent’s most aggressive insects.

5 thoughts on “Answer to the Monday Night Mystery: Camponotus rufipes”

  1. Interesting that this ant is abundant in the urban environs of Vicosa. When I lived in Cuiaba back in the mid-1980s, this ant was fairly common around ponds and in grassy swales (campo limpo) out in the cerrado, but not much found anywhere else. (Those were also excellent habitats for chiggers!) I suppose that the hotter and drier climate of the heart of Mato Grosso predisposed these ants to seek out a somewhat moister and perhaps cooler microclimate of the campos limpos. In these sites, with their occasionally saturated soils, I found the detritus nests completely off the ground, supported by grass culms.

    1. Interesting observation about the raised nests, James. I found one about a meter off the ground in the crotch of a tree.

      I don’t remember C. rufipes being terribly common in Paraguay- certainly less so than the outwardly similar C. renggerri– but this ant was ubiquitous nearly everywhere we went in Minas Gerais.

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