All photgraphs, text and drawings © 2003 R. Joseph Collet, except as otherwise indicated by appropriate credit.

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Flowchart to Nearctic Pogonomyrmex

Offset tooth?
How many teeth? Offset tooth?

To receive a copy of the entire article, please e-mail Joe Collet at

How to Catch Harvester Ants


Photo of an aspirator used to catch ants.

Before one goes about catching ants he must know where to find them. The bulk of the ants to be discussed herein are primarily xeric species. Knowing what you are looking at is also helpful at some point. Unfortunately, most people, including so-called horned lizard experts don’t know how to tell a Pogonomyrmex californicus from a “Schmalifornicus” . When is the best time of the day to catch ants is yet another matter.

In addressing the first issue my experience tells me to look initially in areas where there is disturbed earth. Vacant lots, around freeways and particularly off-ramps, beside dirt roads and trails, and along stream banks will yield far more ant discoveries than will virgin desert. The second issue is largely the subject of the discussion which follows. When to look for them is relatively easy. At those times of day when temperatures are pleasant to humans, ants will be most active. The same applies to seasons of the year.

To receive a copy of the entire article, please e-mail Joe Collet at

How to Tell a Californicus from a Schmalnifornicus

Shiny or punctate texture between rugae?
Shiny or punctate
texture between rugae?

Lacks epinotal armature?
Lacks epinotal armature?

Concentric loops or whorls above eyes?
Concentric loops or
whorls above eyes?

To receive a copy of the entire article, please e-mail Joe Collet at

The Miracle of Myrmecocystus

Foreword / Abstract

This article was prepared because of the seemingly miraculous effect certain Honey Pot Ants seem to have upon reviving the appetites of undernourished, anorexic, and stressed horned lizards. In an effort to share discoveries to horny toad hobbyists and scientists alike which will enhance the husbandry experience and help produce healthy individuals and maintain them in vigorous condition, the publication of this discovery was deemed essential. The writer, over the course of his many years of trial and error experimentation has encountered his share of unhealthy, despondent horned lizards, whether inherited in that condition, or observed to be gradually deteriorating in captivity. Rather than simply resign myself to accepting nature’s hand I became determined to find remedies. Logically, diet, living quarters, and temperature account for most of success in raising horned lizards. Luckily another solution was found to what may henceforth become an unnecessary problem.

After environmental factors are appropriately adjusted, and a particular horned lizard is noticed to be faltering still, proper hydration is just as important, and often water is a sufficient stimulant to induce Phrynosoma to commence feeding anew. But when everything else seems to be in line and a horned lizard won’t eat the usually food items, try something special. Quite by accident I discovered that several horned lizard species seem to be anthropomorphic for Myrmecocystus, and when they refused all other food, the introduction of Honey Pot Ants aroused a sudden rush of attention and usually rapid feeding which in turn sufficiently revived sick lizards into normal feeders of a wide variety of prey once again—within hours or a couple of days!

Photo of two Honey-Pot Ants
Photo by S. Buchman, 1982. Courtesy of Diana E. Wheeler, Ph.D, Dept. of Entomology, IDP-Insect Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 86718

Natural sunlight, avoidance of undue stress, absence of parasites, avoidance of predators and assurance that they will not be neglected all are fundamentals or prerequisites essential to horned lizard well being. When these factors seem to be in line and one still encounters problems, it is time to re-examine diet.

To receive a copy of the entire article, please e-mail Joe Collet at

Drawing of a harverster ant.

What is a Harvester Ant?

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Drawing of a Pogonomyrex

What is a Pogonomyrmex?

To receive a copy of the entire article, please e-mail Joe Collet at

Common Ants of the Southwest Deserts

In contrast to the genera mentioned in the Xeric Alates summary, "Common Ants of the Southwest Deserts" will focus on the worker caste of ants of three subfamilies: Dolichoderinae, Formicinae, and Myrmicinae. Genera represented in addition to those set forth previously will include representatives of Acromyrmex, Aphaenogaster, (Vero)Messor, Dorymyrmex, and Iridomyrmex, amongst others.

Drawing of an ant
Myrmecocystus mexicanus gyne

How to Draw Ants

Gaster of drone pupa P. occidentalis
Gaster of drone pupa
P. occidentalis

Drawing of an ant mouth
Myrmecocystus ssp.

Drawing of an ant larva
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis larva

Drawing ants can be a tedious adventure. First of all, you have to catch the ants. Then you have to identify/classify them. After understanding the morphological terminology, you not only have to be a decent artist, but must be committed to many hours peering through a microscope, sometimes at wiggly subjects. There are a few techniques to streamline this process that I have learned through trial and error. The more you draw, the better you get. Sometimes if you draw the very same thing a second and third time, you see details that you didn't recognize before.

If you are writing a paper and need an illustrator, let me have a crack at it. We can discuss my economic terms very pleasantly. I like to draw ants, but maybe you don't. For this purpose, or to see more detail regarding the referenced article, contact me by e-mail, fax or telephone. My particulars appear repeatedly throughout this website.

Xeric Alates

Drawing of a gyne
Myrmecocystus mexicanus gyne

Drawing of a black drone
Pogonomyrmex occidentalis drone

Xeric (meaning "desert") Alates (meaning "winged ants") is a collection of drawings of reproductives now in progress by R. Joseph Collet. Both gynes (female, future queens) and drones (males) are featured for several Mojave Desert/Great Basin genera including representatives from Camponotus, Formica, Myrmecocystus, Pheidole, Pogonomyrmex, and Solenopsis, to name a few.

An Illustrated Glossary of Ant Terminology

Detail of petiole and postpetiole
Detail of petiole
and postpetiole

Clypeal lobes P. barbatus
Clypeal lobes
P. barbatus

Pilose femur, tibia and tarsus of foreleg with cilia-covered spur Pogonomyrmex maricopa
Pilose femur, tibia and tarsus
of foreleg with cilia-covered spur
Pogonomyrmex maricopa

More About Your Pogos

Photo of pogos

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