Messor cephalotes (Giant African Harvester Ant)


The largest of its genus worldwide, Messor cephalotes queens measure upto an impressive 20-24mm in length. To give you a better insight, that's nearly 3 times as big as Messor barbarus (the common Southern European Harvester species). 


Similarly to other Messor spp. this African Harvester ant is known for its foraging trails leading to sources rich in seeds and similar plant derived materials. These trails are in constant movement from dawn till dusk as the ants relay back and forth bringing important food sources back to the nest. Such nests are easily found in the wild due to their sheer size, often spanning 2-4 metres in size, characteristically noted by sand and gravel particles excavated and deposited in the surface, almost creating, a crater like shape typically associated with extraterrestial land surfaces in films - cue it! "ooooooo".


Additionally not only is its sheer size striking to the eye but its range of polymorphism across their workers is impressive, ranging from 2mm ants all the way to 18mm (rivalling the queen herself!). Unlike most Messor species, the larger worker ants typically present dark red bodies as opposed to black or black and red colouration. 


However, their behaviour skews in comparison to other granivore species as whilst they fundamentally collect seeds to turn into their famous 'ant bread' they also heavily feed on insects as a source of protein and so are actively observed to pin down and kill insects. Furthermore, this species requires a constant source of sugar/honey water in order to keep workers healthy and active. 


In the wild, nests are often found amongst low lying shrubs and ground dwelling plants and foliage. 


It is illegal and strictly frowned upon to release any non-native ants into the wild. 

Messor cephalotes (Giant African Harvester Ant)