The native red ants of Texas, favored prey of the endangered Texas horned lizard, are but one of many New World ants known as “harvesters.” The two genera Pogonomyrmex and Ephebomyrmex range from southern Canada to southern Argentina and the western half of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (Haiti). The book begins with the mythology and folklore surrounding the harvester ants of the Southwest and Mexico: the Aztecs believed that the red harvester brought corn to humankind, and Native Americans of the southwestern deserts invoked special rituals to placate the ants when their mounds were disturbed. Following sections describe the ants’ evolution, distribution, nest structure, habits, foods, predators and cohabitors, defenses, chemistry and communication, and sex life. The final chapter considers the ants’ interaction with humans, including its perception as a pest and the history of pesticide use. Appendixes give the scientific and common names of each harvester ant species, explain how to identify harvesters without technical devices, and provide a complete key to all sixty species. The key is supplemented by illustrations and distribution maps for every species. An extensive bibliography and a detailed index are included.
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