What comes to your mind when someone suggests harvester ants to you? Harvester ants can be sordid and untutored. One way you can prevent them from entering your home is by discovering what they eat. So what does a harvester ant eat? Let us inform you, and these ants do have a food preference, as well as exciting foraging behavior.
What Do Harvester Ants Eat?
They prefer seeds that are closer to their nests; however, you may even find them traveling 30 miles for them. If there is a shortage of food supply, they will expand their diet choices. Most of these ants have a homogeneous diet. Seeds, vegetation, dead and living anthropods or insects form part of their food source. These ants hunt for seeds vigorously.
What Kind of Seeds Do Harvester Ants Eat?
These ants metabolize fat in the seeds that they eat to obtain water content. They forage for vegetation but have a preference for seeds. One may ask, do these ants have any preference for a specific variety of seeds? University of California, Riverside researchers, researched to find out whether these ants collected seeds based on availability or they looked out for any seed species. The findings suggested that the harvester ants did prefer a certain invasive seed species, and its availability failed to matter much for them. They preferred Erodium Cicutarium seeds, also known as filaree. They also seem to enjoy mustard seeds, which fall under exotic plant seeds.
Harvester ants are known for their foraging behavior. They also disperse seeds apart from eating them. Therefore, they are important. The ants forage in grassy areas during the daytime and bring back seeds into their nests for feeding the colonies. When they lose water due to hot and dry conditions, they recover it from metabolizing fats in the seeds that they eat.
Whenever they locate a food source, you will soon see a swarm of such ants gathering food from the location. While foraging, these ants always weigh out the potential costs of food availability against water loss.
Where Do Harvester Ants Live?
The ants live around southwestern countries from the US, such as Utah, California, Texas, and Florida. Certain harvester ants live in Canada, like the red harvester ants. They also have a presence in the grassland areas of western Colorado. You will mostly find them in prairies and grasslands.
These insects build their nests in soil and live in plains. All their nests have an opening. Closer to this opening is an area devoid of vegetation, diametrically measuring up to 2m.
The scientific name of these ants means ‘bearded ants’ owing to the hair wound around their head. These insects are moderately large, 5 – 7 m, and reddish-brown. A rough harvester ant’s head and thorax are black. Their large heads have powerful jaws that help them crack seeds, and brushy hair in its front is useful to carry food and materials.
Few days following the rain, somewhere in summer, these ants engage in mating. Just like all other ants, these ants mate by swarming. You could see them around tall buildings, farm equipment in the open fields, or farmhouses. Many ants have fallen from chimneys during these mating flights.
Usually, food quality, quantity, hormones, and temperature from queens and employees determine whether an ant will be a worker or queen.
These ants may live for a long time.
Also Read: How To Get Rid Of Harvester Ants Naturally
Do Harvester Ants Eat Grass?
Harvester ants will eat a variety of seeds, dead insects, as well as grasses. When they have limited food availability, they will expand their food choices. They keep their diet homogeneous.
Do Harvester Ants Eat Dead?
These ants do eat dead as well as alive anthropods and insects.
Are Harvester Ants Omnivores?
Yes, they are omnivores; however, they have a strong preference for certain seed species.
Do Harvester Ants Bite?
They inject venom into the skin and cause immediate reactions due to the sting. A single ant can sting the target many times. The sting could cause minor, moderate, to intense pain, which could take several hours to heal. There are cases of anaphylaxis and serious symptoms occurring depending on the target’s age, number of inflicted stings, and degree of allergy caused by the ant’s venom. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction that occurs due to exposure to allergen within a short span. Some symptoms of allergic reactions include hives, wheezing, vomiting, nausea, sneezing, anxiety, difficulty in breathing, chest tightening, dizziness, fainting, coma, loss of blood pressure, and itching or swelling around lips, eyes, and other facial areas. Get physician advice when stung or bit by these ants to recover fast.
Can Harvester Ants Kill You?
A few ants, namely the Maricopa harvester ant, can kill you due to their toxin. After one harvester ant bites, and death becomes natural due to several such bites.