Pogonomyrmex barbatus (featured), Pogonomyrmex sp, Messor sp, Pheidole sp.
Most Pogonomyrmex sp. are common across South West America, and occasionally found in Mexico.
These ants typically live in dry desert like conditions. They favour exposed open areas for their underground nests which can be around 4.5 meters deep.
Mostly seeds from grasses but sometimes other insects too.
Established colonies can have around 10 thousand ants.
There are hundreds of different 'harvester ant' species found world wide. Pogonomyrmex barbatus is commonly known as the red harvester ant.
These ants use their large mandibles to grind seeds into a ‘bread’ which is placed in storage areas called ‘granaries’ found in their nest for year round food.
Worker ants can be found collecting seeds as far as 50-60 Km from their nest, they use their chemical scent trails to navigate back to the nest.
During 2003 some of these ants took part in a 16 day flight into space as part of an observational experiment performed by NASA.
A few Horned lizard species feed almost exclusively on Harvester ants. They have adapted ways to survive the ants stings and attacks. In some areas Harvester ants are being invaded by Argentine ants, as a result the Horned lizards have become an endangered species.
Harvester ants are known to aid seed dispersal via myrmecochory.
15-17mm. Dark red and orange, monogyn (one queen per colony).
Queens have reportedly lived for up to 30 years.
Risk level 3
These ants are not so aggressive, but they do have a strong bite and a sharp sting that can hurt for up to 8 hours. Its sting is similar to a bees sting.