In Arizona, harvester ants may be one of a variety of species. They can be as large as one-half inch long, and may be black, red or brown in color. Both male and female harvester ants lose their wings after mating. They also have a stinger for protection.
Harvester ants create large mounds, forming colonies alongside gardens or other planted areas. These ants can actually be beneficial to the environment, spreading seeds and serving as food for other wildlife. They usually only pose a problem when their mounds are located near areas that people may have close encounters with them.
Harvester ants are foragers, going out in search of seeds and dead insects to bring back to the colony for food.
Some lay 1 egg/day while others lay 15 to 30 eggs each year. Some queens are known to live up to 25 years.
These ants will aggressively defend their colonies and may sting. The venom from a harvester ant is more powerful than that of a honeybee, and people who are allergic to their venom can experience pain and swelling.