Pogonomyrmex occidentalis
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis (the Western Harvester Ant) is found across most of northern Arizona and in some of the mountain ranges of Southeastern Arizona. Their nests are prominent mounds surrounded by bare soil. They are usually quite visible from the car as you drive down the freeway - one of the easiest ways to go anting!

The entrances to the nest mounds are usually around the base and sides of the mounds The mounds are not just piles of dirt, they usually contain a variety of chambers. The sides of the mounds have a layer of coarse gravel on them. The photos below are of workers on the surface of the mound, showing the mound's gravel coating.

P. occidentalis can be quite aggressive and fast moving while defending its nest. It is best to photograph them when the weather is cool


  

Click on the images below to see a larger version

Side view of Pogonomyrmex occidentalis queen. If you look closely, see the scars left where she broke her wings off after mating.
Side view of Pogonomyrmex occidentalis queen. If you look closely, see the scars left where she broke her wings off after mating.
Side view of Pogonomyrmex occidentalis queen.
Side view of Pogonomyrmex occidentalis queen.
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis worker grooming.
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis worker grooming.
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis worker grooming.
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis worker grooming.
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis nest. Their typical nest is a mound a foot or more high, covered with gravel. They are a very prominent feature of many western landscapes.
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis nest. Their typical nest is a mound a foot or more high, covered with gravel. They are a very prominent feature of many western landscapes.
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis nest. Their typical nest is a mound a foot or more high, covered with gravel. . This one has Arizona's Vermillion Cliffs in the background.  My sunglasses are on top of the mound to provide scale.
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis nest. Their typical nest is a mound a foot or more high, covered with gravel. . This one has Arizona's Vermillion Cliffs in the background. My sunglasses are on top of the mound to provide scale.
Another view of a Pogonomyrmex occidentalis nest mound. As mentioned, they are quite prominent.
Another view of a Pogonomyrmex occidentalis nest mound. As mentioned, they are quite prominent.
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis worker emerging from the nest.
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis worker emerging from the nest.
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis worker on the nest mound, side view.
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis worker on the nest mound, side view.