Messor arenarius (Giant Harvester Ant)
A type of harvester ant species commonly found throughout the Middle East and North Africa desert territories. This charcoal coloured ant, has a noticeably hairy body, specifically noticeable on the thorax and gaster.
Harvester ants? Like many species belonging to the Messor genus, they actually do just that! These little critters will form several metre non-stop lines of workers carrying plant seeds and husks from A (source of seeds) to B (back to nest). Usually from dawn till dusk! It gets even more interesting!
Harvested seeds aren't actually just collected and stored. In order to become useful to the colony, the workers (usually those of the media caste) will deshell the pulp from the husk and chew this and combining it with their own saliva and enzymes to create a type of 'ant bread'. This is then fed to their youngsters, the larvae!
In the wild, nests are often found amongst low lying shrubs and ground dwelling plants typically associated with undisturbed land amongst olive trees, at the base of mountain ranges and most abundantly, fields in the outskirts of cities where vegetation is abundant.
They are a generally docile species of ant that is suitable for beginner. In terms of growth, they are rather slow to develop, especially during the foundation stages of the colony. However, once the colony reaches 40-50 workers and over, the colony tends to grow faster. Due to the nature of their natural environment, these ants would benefit from a short period of hibernation from January - March.
It is illegal and strictly frowned upon to release any non-native ants into the wild.