A couple of week ago I found this ant (family Formicidae) crawling around on some foliage in a Michigan mesic southern forest. I keyed it out to the subfamily Formicinae, and then the genus Camponotus (carpenter ants). I suspect it’s of the species C. castaneus.
Winged ants like the individual shown here are either males or queens. They’re winged because they engage in mating flights. Soon after these events, the males die and the queens go off to start a colony. They’ll then either shed their own wings, or their workers will chew them off for them (Triplehorn and Johnson 2005).
After reading an introduction to queen ant identification, I realized this individual is indeed a queen. Males have smaller abdomens, smaller heads, and larger eyes. Males are also smaller overall; this individual was about 2 cm in length, quite large for an ant in this area.
Triplehorn, C.A. and N.F. Johnson. 2005. Borror and DeLong’s Introduction to the Study of Insects. Seventh Edition. Thomson Brooks/Cole, Belmont, CA.