World’s Most Venomous Insect Found in Arizona

300px Pogonomyrmex maricopa casent0005712 profile 1 World’s Most Venomous Insect Found in Arizona
English: Profile view of ant Pogonomyrmex maricopa specimen casent0005712. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Maricopa Harvester Ant

Maricopa harvester ants are frequently found in most of Arizona, including the city of Mesa. The ant is famous for having the most toxic venom of all insects. Maricopa harvester ants come in a variety of colors from bright red to dark brown. They measure in size from one centimeter to three centimeters, depending on their age. They have two pairs of wings, but will not carry them for the entirety of their lives. Both the male and female ants will shed their wings after they mate, and the males will then die.

Nests of Maricopa Harvester Ants

Maricopa harvester ants erect enormous nests that can reach widths of almost 30 feet, and heights of six feet. These massive nests are only common if mother nature does not wipe them out, or if the nest is not taken over by other species of ants. Their nest mounds usually made of rocks and gravel. The ants create cemented caps, made of calcium carbonate, on top of their mound nests. This protects the nest from being eroded away by high winds or rainy weather.

Maricopa Harvester Ant Nutrition

Like all other harvester ants, the Maricopa harvester ants forage for their food. The leave the nest to gather seeds, dead insects, and any other food it can find. They then bring the food back to their nest to divide up among the colony. Maricopa harvester ants will forage up to 33 feet away from the nest in order to make sure that they bring back enough food for the entire colony. The ant plays a major role in decomposition by dragging dead carcasses of insects underground, thus enriching soil for plants and crops.

Maricopa Harvester Ants on Attack

One characteristic that distinguishes the Maricopa harvester ant from other species of ant is that they have a stinger that is comparable to that of a honeybee. They use their stingers as a protection against anything they might believe will cause them harm. The ant will attach itself to its victim by clinging on to them with their mandibles. Once attached, it will arrange itself so its stinger is facing towards the victim. The ant will then sting as many times as it can before it is removed or killed. When the first ant stings it’s victim it will release pheromones that signal other members of the colony to come and attack as well. This swarming tendency makes the ant very dangerous.

Maricopa Harvester Ant Venom

Maricopa harvester ants contain the most toxic venom of all insects. Their venom is a combination of amino acids, peptides, and proteins. The venom from the Maricopa harvester ant is twelve times more powerful than that of a honeybee. A four and a half pound rat could be killed by as few as twelve stings, and a 150 lb human could be killed by about 350 stings. To get the same mortality rate from a bee, a human would have to be stung well over 10,000 times, without an allergic reaction taking place. While this may seem like a high number of stings it is very low compared to the amount of stings from other insects.

Mesa Ant Control

As Mesa residents, we are usually more worried about keeping the deadly scorpions off our property and out of our homes. The venom of the Maricopa harvester ants can be just as deadly as a scorpion’s and they need to be professionally eliminated. If you are seeing ants of any kind on your property, even if it’s not the venomous Maricopa harvester ant, contact a Mesa pest control professional today. They’ll help to eradicate the ants before they find you or your family.

Bulwark Exterminating
1228 East Broadway Road
Mesa, AZ 85204
(480) 969-7474

Bulwark Exterminating
10401 N 91st Ave
Peoria, AZ 85345
(623) 572-3016

2400 West Southern Avenue
Tempe, AZ 85282
(623) 688-1885

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