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Harvester Ant

Physical Characteristics

The harvester ants found in California range from 1/4 to 3/8 inches long, and are orange to reddish brown in color (P. californicus), red (P. occidentalis) or reddish black to black (P. rugosa). All harvester ants have barbed stingers.


Harvester ants are urban pests, although they do not invade homes or structures. These ants nest in mounds, maybe covered with pebbles, charcoal or even fragments of dead vegetation that are used to retain heat. When they go off to forage, these ants will leave the nest one by one, heading off in different directions. The harvester ant’s name comes from its habit of stripping vegetation while collecting seeds, resulting in large bare spots in vegetation and lawns. The harvester ant can be aggressive when defending its nest, resulting in stings similar to a bee’s, and this ant will engage in long, drawn-out wars with other colonies. You might describe these ants as the ruffians of the bug world. And when you’re watching an old western movie and there’s a person staked out over an ant mound? The harvester ant is most likely the culprit.


Treating harvester ants should be handled by a trained, licensed pest management professional, due to this ant’s aggressive nature. If you suspect you might have harvester ants, call Clark’s Pest Control, and our friendly technician will identify them for certain, before taking appropriate measures.