Sunday, February 21, 2021

Harvester Ants

In late October I came across an industrious group of Harvester Ants.  These ants of the genus Pheidole exhibit dimorphism, having two different sizes of workers; a smaller size dedicated to food gathering and general nest chores along with a larger version that uses its extremely large head in defense of the colony. They are primarily seed gatherers and were busy moving spent flowers into their nest.  I assume there were some edible seeds included with the flowers.

The ants had located their nest in a shallow mound of bare soil.  The plants in the upper right of the photo are Draba cuneifolia, a rare winter annual.  I’ll be checking this plant population later in the year, so I’ll take some time then to see if I can identify these ants to species.


As usual, I was behind on the amount of work I had hoped to accomplish for the day, so I only took the time to get a couple of still shots and a short video.  The huge headed individuals seemed to be constantly on the move.  My presence may have disturbed their normal behavior, but I didn’t notice them until I was almost on top of the nest, so I don’t know what they were up to a few seconds earlier.