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Identifying Pogonomyrmex in Arizona: Part 1

In his book Bees, Wasps, and Ants: The Indispensable Role of Hymenoptera in Gardens, Eric Grissell laments that ant species are difficult to tell apart, more difficult than other types of insects that he has worked with in any case. Most of the time, I would disagree. When it comes to telling apart the harvester [...]

Sandmat and Ants: Pollination?

It is spring and the flowers are blooming in Arizona.

Do you recognize the plants? I believe they are smallseed sandmat, Chamaesyce polycarpa.

In any case, ants were all over them.

On the day I visited, Dorymyrmrex bicolor workers were everywhere. Getting a little closer…

I could see the front of the ant’s head was covered with pollen.

Two more [...]

Ant of the Week: Pogonomyrmex californicus

Pogonomyrmex californicus is a common harvester ant in the Sonoran Desert.


Ants of the genus Pogonomyrmex are generally easy to recognize by the presence of a psammophore, a series of long hairs resembling a beard on the underside of the head. In fact, the root of its name “pogono” means beard in Greek.

The species can be [...]

Pogonomyrmex californicus Harvester Ants

While investigating the Dorymyrmex bicolor ants I posted about on Monday, I spotted a few other ants that looked similar, mostly because of their red-brown and black coloration.

On closer observation, however,  these ants were obviously another species. First of all, they were almost double the size.

The long hairs on the underside of their heads gave [...]