Sonoran Desert Naturalist >>> Field Guide >>> Ants, Bees and Wasps >>> California Harvester Ant

California Harvester Ant

Pogonomyrmex californicus

 

Pogonomyrmex californicus photo © by Mike Plagens

Photographed along Camp Creek, Maricopa Co., Arizona on 13 Sept 2008.

Formicidae -- Ant Family

Large, long-legged, often fast-moving ants that gather seeds and insect prey as food. Nests are generally made in loose sand or soil leaving a characteristic, hemispherical mound. Common in the Sonoran Desert especially near broad, sandy flood plains. Usually bright red, however, some specimens may have black abdomens. 'Pogos' as these harvester ants are called have a specialized basket of hairs below the mandibles called a psammaphore that assists in hauling loose soil particles. There is a stinger at the posterior of the abdomen that can deliver a painful sting.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009