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 Post subject: Question 'bout ants in s. AZ.
PostPosted: November 18th, 2011, 8:26 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:08 am
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Location: Southern Arizona
I recently posted this strand on the AZ Forum, because it had to do with the ants and lizards in my yard that eat ants. I live in Green Valley in southern Pima County. Here's a link to the strand....
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=9068

Basically, I need to know if there is a difference bt. leaf-cutters and harvester ants. If harvesters don't cut living leaves off of plants, then I'll leave them alone, so the lizards can eat them.

Thanks for any help...

Terry Cox


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 Post subject: Re: Question 'bout ants in s. AZ.
PostPosted: November 18th, 2011, 8:38 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:42 am
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Terry without seeing exactly which ants you are dealing with it is hard to give you a concrete answer. However in general most of the harvester ants feed primarily on plant seeds. I have seen them on occasion taking leaves or flower petals from plants this is usually only if it has been a very bad season for seed production. The black harvester ant you are seeing may be Messor pergandei if it is glossy black. There certainly would be no need to attempt any sort of control for these ants.
Here is an excellent site that may help narrow down the ants you are dealing with.
http://www.pogolumina.net/


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 Post subject: Re: Question 'bout ants in s. AZ.
PostPosted: November 18th, 2011, 9:07 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:08 am
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Location: Southern Arizona
Gordon, thanks for the reply, and the lizards thank you... :)

You answered part of my questions in that there is a difference bt. harvesters and leaf-cutters. I will do some more research and look for the harvesters, but I don't think the ones in my yard are harvesters. I only have seen them carrying small leaves, like those from mesquite and palo verde. We have pine trees too and I've seen them carrying dead pine needles. They are not a glossy black, but more of a darker version of the other leaf-cutters I've seen. I'll try to get some photos in the near future.

The ants I see attacking bushes and trees are true leaf-cutters. They've even gone into large cedar trees and cut down needles. Because we have a fairly large yard (an acre) and we have lots of trees, etc, the ants are attracted and may come from other people's yards nearby. I've seen them come from pretty far away and it's amazing to see their long line of workers all carrying a piece of leaf or flower petal. There must be thousands in a colony. We rarely have horned lizards (regals) in our yard, so maybe they don't like leaf-cutters. I think the leaf-cutters have a stinger, but I'm not sure. They usually don't pay any attention to me.

Thanks for your help. Glad to see you over here. If anyone would be interested I could try to document some of the inverts in our yard and house. Lots of widows...LOL.

Terry


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 Post subject: Re: Question 'bout ants in s. AZ.
PostPosted: November 18th, 2011, 9:23 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:42 am
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Terry Photos would be a great help. The leaf cutters you have are genus Acromyrmex, they are always reddish brown, more reddish They have numerous very distinct spines on the dorsal surface of the "thorax" Their colonies typically are very well formed distinct craters. Of they are any other color than reddish and spiny they almost certainly are Pogonomyrmex harvester ants. The dorsal spines are critical though as there are reddish harvesters as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Question 'bout ants in s. AZ.
PostPosted: November 18th, 2011, 10:05 pm 
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Location: Southern Arizona
Thanks for the tips. I'll find out more about them and report back. Their mounds do look like craters though. Later....

TC


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 Post subject: Re: Question 'bout ants in s. AZ.
PostPosted: November 19th, 2011, 5:57 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:08 am
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Location: Southern Arizona
Looks exactly like what you described, Gordon. I went out this afternoon and found some active ants. They were bringing mesquite leaves back to their nest. The nest is like a volcano and there were pieces of green leaves around the opening, as well as many ants. The ants were reddish-brown, like you said for leaf-cutter ants. The ones in the backyard with lots of trees and shade look darker than the ones in front, which is much more deserty, but they are not black like I thought at first. I collected some of the ants and put them in the freezer to slow them down, but left them in too long and I think they died. They rolled up in little ball-like shapes. I could still see them pretty well under the microscope though and they definitely have the spines on their thorax...very cool.

I got pics of the ant mounds and the ants, but I haven't processed them, yet. Will post them when I get them on my internet host site.

Terry (and thanks again, Gordon) :thumb:


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 Post subject: Re: Question 'bout ants in s. AZ.
PostPosted: November 19th, 2011, 6:52 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:08 am
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Location: Southern Arizona
Did some research and found that Acromyrmex versicolor, the desert leafcutter ant, is the only leafcutter in our area. That would be Sonoran Desert habitat, south of Tucson, AZ. I still don't know if they have a stinger, or not.

TC :roll:


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 Post subject: Re: Question 'bout ants in s. AZ.
PostPosted: November 19th, 2011, 7:02 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:42 am
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No sting to be worried about.


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 Post subject: Re: Question 'bout ants in s. AZ.
PostPosted: November 19th, 2011, 8:01 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:08 am
Posts: 2237
Location: Southern Arizona
Here are some pics from today....

This is one of the ant mounds, which looks sort of like a volcano. The white powder is what I put on the mound to get the ants to retreat back into their nests....
Image

The next pic shows a new opening with ants coming out and some leaves littered around the opening to their nest mound....
Image

The last pic shows some ants around a nest mound. I used a point and shoot camera, so couldn't get very good pics of the ants. There's nice pics at some of the websites showing Acromyrmex versicolor....
Image

Interesting creatures, for sure.

Terry :crazyeyes:


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 Post subject: Re: Question 'bout ants in s. AZ.
PostPosted: November 19th, 2011, 8:45 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:42 am
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Yup, very typical Acromyrmex versicolor.


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 Post subject: Re: Question 'bout ants in s. AZ.
PostPosted: November 19th, 2011, 9:45 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:08 am
Posts: 2237
Location: Southern Arizona
Thanks for taking the time to help out. Now that I've learned a little about the ants in my yard I'm going to start looking around to see if I can find any other species, like the harvester ants.

The termites are very neat too. I do a lot of recycling, composting, so I see a lot of termite action. They are really helpful and are also a big part of the food chain.

Later... :beer:


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