Harvester Ants

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Pogonomyrmex spp.

Appearance

What do they look like?
Harvester ant picture

The Western harvester ant is found in the west at high elevations. This is a red colored ant that can be 6.5 to 10 mm long. Galleries have been found to go over 600 cm deep.

How Did I Get Harvester Ants?

Flat, open and sparsely shaded lawns give harvester ants room to build their mounds, plus these ants generally prefer to build their nests in sandy soil. Since seeds are a major part of the harvester ant diet, gardens or bird feeders may also attract these insects. Harvester ants tend to avoid indoor areas, but sometimes enter homes by accident through cracks and gaps around windows or doors. Harvester ants are very large and robust.

How Serious Are Harvester Ants?

Harvester ants are an outdoor nuisance, especially in backyards or recreational areas. Many species of these pests can deliver painful stings and bites, but are not considered as aggressive as fire ants. However, a harvester ant sting can last longer than the stings of other stinging ants, and allergic reactions can be serious. Their mounds cause unsightly barren spots in lawns and landscaping.

How Can You Get Rid of Them?

What Orkin Does

The Orkin Man™ is trained to help manage Harvester Ants and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Keeping ants out of homes and buildings is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps — Assess, Implement and Monitor.

The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to keep ants in their place…out of your home, or business.


Signs of a Harvest Ant Infestation

Aside from the ants themselves, the large mounds, almost 53 inches across in some cases, and denuded vegetation near to the nest are the most visible signs of harvester ant activity.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

The three common species of harvester ants — the red, western and California harvester ants — each have unique behaviors, castes and tasks, feeding, nesting patterns and defense mechanisms. The harvester ant behavior differs between each species, seen through their feeding and nesting habits. In addition, unlike many other ants that infest indoor structures, all species of harvester ants prefer not to invade houses and buildings, but will establish their nests around gardens or yards, often destroying vegetation.

The red harvester ants can be aggressive. They deliver a painful sting. Sometimes, the stings of harvester ants can cause allergic reactions, especially to those sensitive to their venom. Aside from their powerful stings, harvester ants also bite viciously.

This is an important agricultural pest in many areas. The feeding habits of red harvester ants can be seen as they leave their nests and travel to their food sources, leaving a distinct scent throughout their paths.

Are Harvester Ants poisonous?
The answer to this question is YES, harvester ants are poisonous. In general, the harvester ants in the genus Pogonomyrmex are aggressive biters that inject potent and painful venom with their stingers. Like most stinging insects, their level of aggression and venom potency differs between species within the genus. For example, the Florida harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex badius, is not considered an aggressive ant, but its venomous sting is very painful.

Read more about Harvester Ant bites.

Reproduction

Colonies usually contain a single queen who is responsible for producing the eggs. Winged reproductives, also called swarmer or alates, are produced in the summer. Males die soon after mating with the females, who go on to found new colonies.

More Information

Harvester Ant Bites.

Western Harvester Ants

Black Harvester Ants

Texas Red Harvester Ants

Red Harvester Ant Mating Swarms