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Messor barbarus Queen


Taxonomy Messor barbarus

Country of Origin Mediterranean and North Africa

Easy, Skilled, Specilalist; Easy

Colony size  Monogynous. Independent founding. Colonies can become very large. When the colony reaches a decent size, they will produce larger workers. Can number up to a few thousand individuals

Expected life expectancy

Habitat  Gardens, parks and forests, deep soil nests

Queen size 14-18mm

Worker size 3-9mm with majors being 9-14mm


Lifecycle and Dormancy;
Not obligatory, but around six weeks of dormancy at 10 – 15 degrees Celsius (50 – 59 degrees Fahrenheit) is recommended. During dormancy their metabolism is strongly minimized, so feeding is not required, but moist is. After dormancy, increase the temperature slowly to desired temperature to avoid intoxication by built-up toxics due to the reduced metabolism.

Defence Don't sting but can have a nasty bite

Warning Can bite

Venomous N/A

Nuptial flights September-October

Other information

Messor barbarus is a species of harvester ant in the subfamily Myrmicinae. Messor barbarus is found to act in accordance with the optimal foraging theory, which predicts that selectivity in ants increases with increasing richness of resources in an area, as well as with increasing distance from starting location. Trails were likewise differentially favored according to the relative abundance of resources provided to the ant populations. Highly frequented trails had a higher mean rate per worker, meaning the harvesters returned higher rates of resources more efficiently along these trails. These trails drew more foraging ants to retrieve seeds on the whole, and the foraging ants returned seeds at a higher rate per capita. This foraging pattern indicates that relative food abundance along varying trails impacted the patterns of trail foraging behavior in Messor barbarus. For trails spanning long distances, ants exhibit behavior of strong chemical marking on preferred seeds to allow for the creation and maintenance of the route.

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