Species: Pogonomyrmex barbatus - Red Harvester Ant

Pogonomyrmex barbatus


Common Names

Red Harvester Ant, Red Ant



This species is the primary food of the Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) in part or all of the lizard's range.Workers are 1/4 to 1/2 inch, Queens at the largest end of that rangeThe workers emerge from below ground in early March and can be observed removing soil and litter after winter.Monogynous (single-queen) colonies. Males die shortly after the mating flight. Mated females disperse to found their own colonies. Colony size increases over first 5 years before levelling off around 10,000+ workers, though some reach twice this size. Colony may go 20 feet beneath the soil's surface and span several meters across. Colony life expectancy is 15-20 years.


This ant's sting is more painful than most species in its range, but is rarely used.The removal of plants from the area around the colony entrance helps prevent plant roots from disrupting the subterranean tunnels.Trails from the colony entrance leading to food sources can sometimes be seen.


Mesic habitats with significant clay in the soil, usually open grassy areas in sun or shade


Mostly seeds (will raid bird feeders) but also scavenges dead insects

Ecosystem Roles

The ants are a major source of food for several species of lizards. Their colonies help to aerate the soil and allow water to saturate the soil.


USA: From eastern Louisiana and Arkansas west to central Arizona and Nevada, south into Mexico.





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