The genus Messor contains over 100 species worldwide, with at least 8 species being found in North America, north of Mexico. These ants are usually found in arid, open habitats.

Messor are referred to as 'harvester ants', as seeds constitute a large part of their diets (they are known to scavenge dead insects as well). Most, if not all of the species found in the US rely almost entirely on seeds/grains as sources of nutrition.

Many make large conspicuous nests, often surrounded by chaff, the discarded plant material from previous harvests.

Some of our US species bear a strong superficial resemblance to some Pogonomyrmex ants, and can be confused with them in the field.

The North American species are as follows: Messor andrei, M. chamberlini, M. chicoensis, M. lariversi, M. lobognathus, M. pergandei, M. smithi, and M. stoddardi. These Nearctic species (formerly of the now defunct genus Veromessor) are thought to be more closely related to New World Aphaenogaster ants (formerly Novomessor), than they are to other Messor species in the Old World.

Messor ants are part of the subfamily Myrmicinae, which is the largest subfamily of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the world. [scroll down for additional notes/references]


·Fisher, B.L. & S.P. Cover. 2007. Ants of North America: A Guide to the Genera. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, University of California Press
·Hölldobler, B. & E.O. Wilson. 1990. The Ants. Cambridge, MA, Belknap/Harvard Press
·Johnson, R.A. 2000. Seed Harvesting Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of North America: An Overview of Ecology and Biogeography. Sociobiology Vol.36, No. 1, 2000
·Ward, P.S. 2005. A Synoptic Review of the Ants of California (Hymenoptera:Formicidae). Zootaxa 936, Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand