Novomessor cockerelli (Desert Harvester Ant)
A fearsome, russet red, long legged harvester ant, Novomessor cockerelli is an ant that hails all the way from S.West USA.
Ant colonies are abundantly found in semi arid environments such as those in Southeastern Arizona. Nests are easily spotted due to the large crater-like entrances that are surrounded by coarse gravel.
This 'spider-like' ant is known to be a little different to most harvester ants. Instead of solely relying on foraging for seeds, in true "desert inhabitant" style, they have adapted to collecting a large range of food sources, from seeds to insects to even plant tissue! These ants are truly versatile when it comes to scouting for resources.
Due to the extreme temperatures faced during the day, worker ants will typically forage late in the day. However, in a captive environment, if temperature parameters allow, these will forage during the day without hesitation. Moreover, one will be able to observe their impressive skills when it comes to cooperative transport. It is thought that this adaptation increases the overall delivery rate of prey to the nest. Making it one of the many skills these ants have 'fine-tuned' to live in the desert.
In captivity, this species does well in natural, soil based nests or Ytong nests.
It is important that the right temperature parameters 24-28C are provided for optimum growth. A selection of insects & seeds should be offered in addition to liquid sugary substances.
A 'mild' hibernation period of 2-3 months from late November is advised. Temperatures should replicate those of their natural environment which is 16-20C. This will enable the queen to rest from her egg laying duties.
If you're looking for a relatively hardy species from the USA, Novomessor cockerelli might just be for you. Tenacious, fast & aggresive is exactly what these girls are all about.
It is illegal and strictly frowned upon to release any non-native ants into the wild.