Explanation of Names
Pogonomyrmex barbatus (Smith 1858)
Workers are 1/4 to 1/2 inch, Queens at the largest end of that range
Long propodeal spines, broad square head, and fine, fingerprint-like cephalic rugosity.
Nest structure varies but is a plant-free gravelly area, either a mound or flat disc, up to 6 feet across.
From eastern Louisiana and Arkansas west to central Arizona and Nevada, south into Mexico.
Mesic habitats with significant clay in the soil, usually open grassy areas in sun or shade
Mating flights are triggered by summer rains.
Mostly seeds (will raid bird feeders) but also scavenges dead insects
Monogynous (single-queen) colonies. Males die shortly after the mating flight. Mated females disperse to found their own colonies. Colony size increases over first 5 years before levelling off around 10,000+ workers, though some reach twice this size. Colony may go 20 feet beneath the soil's surface and span several meters across. Colony life expectancy is 15-20 years.
This species is the primary food of the Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) in part or all of the lizard's range.
This ant's sting is more painful than most species in its range, but is rarely used.
The removal of plants from the area around the colony entrance helps prevent plant roots from disrupting the subterranean tunnels.