Black Harvester Ants

The black harvester ant is one of several species of harvester ants found in the United States. These ants are common from southern California to western Texas. Harvested seeds are their primary food source. These ants will collect seeds or plants until the supply is exhausted, at which point they will begin harvesting another type of seed.

The black harvester ant’s antennae consist of 12 segments without a club. Under the head is a row of long hairs, known as the psammophore. The thorax and head contain shallow parallel grooves, with a pair of spines located atop the thorax.

Unlike many other pest ant species, black harvester ants do not nest inside human structures. Instead, they seek out areas that are open and clear of vegetation. They build their mounds and cover them with gravel, charcoal, tiny rocks or fragments of dead vegetation. This debris serves as a solar energy trap, controlling nest temperature. Black harvester ant nests are excavated deep within the ground. Black harvester ants can relocate their nest, if necessary, due to climate changes.

Swarming black harvester ants are common during the summer. Soon after mating, male ants die and females search out new nesting sites. Colonies of black harvester ants are populous, but contain only one queen.

Because they are desert dwellers, black harvester ants do not commonly encounter humans. However, they do sometimes build nests near human dwellings, and black harvester ants sting when disturbed or attacked by predators.