Harvester Ants

The Harvester Ant

Harvester Ants

Harvester Ants. By Mike Lewinski from Tres Piedras, NM, United States – Pogonomyrmex harvester ants, CC BY 2.0, 

Most commonly found at high elevations in western portions of the United States, harvester ants are a hard-working pest that can quickly become established on your lawn. These pests prefer flat, poorly shaded lawns, and are difficult to get rid of once they have become established. The most common harvester ant species in the United States are the California harvester ant, the Florida harvester ant, and the black harvester ant, though there are several other predominant species in the country as well.


These large, robust ants are red or black in color and reach up to ten millimeters long. They build galleries over six hundred centimeters deep. These ants get their name from their habit of gathering seeds from surrounding areas. Seeds serve as their primary food source. These ants clear large areas around the nest entrance hole, giving them the ability to completely destroy your lawn or garden. A telltale sign of infestation is one of these mounds, which the ants make as they move soil away from the nest. If you think you might have a harvester ant infestation, scour your lawn for sightings of nests and similar structures.

Appearance, Behavior, and Signs

Harvester ants are commonly found in the United States, with many desert-dwelling species living in the remote areas of the country. Nests usually have one entrance hole and will be surrounded by a clear patch of soil up to thirty feet in diameter. These ants have six legs and a two-segmented body. The midsection has a pair of spines on the top, and many species have multiple long hairs on their heads.

Harvester ants create large mounds that they move frequently, usually changing them as a result of overly shady conditions. They swarm during the summer, usually after a rainfall.


Harvester ants prefer areas that are flat, open, and sunny. They build mounds in sandy soil, and are particularly attracted to seeds. Therefore, fixtures such as bird feeders are gardens may heavily attract large populations of these insects. They do not tend to venture indoors, but will under duress. They make their way inside–usually accidentally-through cracks around doors or windows.


how to get rid of harvester ants

By Mike Lewinski from Tres Piedras, NM, United States – Pogonomyrmex harvester ants, CC BY 2.0, 

In many cases, harvester ants may not bother you or your lawn. However, if they are beginning to become a problem, consider setting ant baits to eliminate them entirely. Keep in mind that this bait should be kept out of the reach of children and pets to avoid widespread contamination. Sometimes, multiple types of baits must be used to totally eradicate a population.

Harvester Ant Facts

Harvester ants are mostly an outdoor nuisance, so if you see them inside your house, don’t panic. They likely aren’t there because they are moving in to stay, but instead because they got lost. These ants can deliver a painful sting, but these bites are not as painful as those of fire ants. However, allergic reactions can be serious, and the stings seem to last a bit longer than those of other ant species. This is largely because most species of harvester ants have stingers with reverse barbs, meaning that the stingers break off in the wound like that of a honeybee sting.

Furthermore, a harvester ant mound will cause an unsightly bare spot on your lawn. They can also cause potentially property threats. Therefore, it’s important to get rid of these pests immediately. Contact a certified pest control specialist to help identify the source of your harvester ant program. They will then work with you to eliminate the ants and develop a solution so that they never return again.

Continue Reading About Ants

[catlist name=”ants”]