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Messor Barbarus Harvester queen ant with workers care

The Messor Barbarus also known as the harvester ants, is a common and easy-to-keep species for ant enthusiasts. These unique ants do not sting, but the major workers are so big they can bite you, it's more like tickling and not so painful though depending on your skin type.


Messor Barbarus are probably the most interesting ant species suitable for a beginner ant keeper as the queen ant is way bigger, reaching 18 millimetres and is more interesting compared to other beginner-friendly ant species queens.


Colony Form

The workers are very polymorphic and are of three main sizes. From just 3mm to up to 15mm.  

1. Small (minor: 3-7mm) workers - they usually care for the brood and Queen ant's needs.

2. Normal-sized (media: 6-10mm) ones - care for the ants' bread-making and nest cleaning.

3. Majors (10-15mm)- protecting the colony's nest and the queen. Sometimes cooperate with the media workers regarding seeds' chewing.



Messor ants prefer to nest in sand-soil and shrub areas.


Colony Size

Their colonies can grow to about 10,000 workers and are a great choice for those looking to start their ant-keeping journey.



Messor queen ant lifespan is up to 25 years. The workers will live up to 2 years and aid in the growth and success of your colony. The bigger the worker the longer the lifespan.



Their main food source is seeds, making them easy to feed and maintain. Our Messor Barbarus ant colonies are healthy and mites-free, so you can feel confident in your purchase.


Messor Barbarus feeding

Feed them into the outworld only! Harvester ant's main food is seed mix.

How to feed them and how much?

So the golden rule is 1 seed per ant per month. Feed them every two weeks (half dosage, for instance: 30 ants = 15 seeds every two weeks).

The first feeding dose must be doubled. Keep an eye on their food storage so they have one nest’s chamber full of seeds all the time.


Suitable Ant Farm Kit

Once your colony is large enough you can consider moving it into an ant farm.

I would recommend the small-medium ant farm for a small colony of Messor ant species. The best options among our products are the A7 Plus, Antie or the A6 Ant Farm where you can enjoy watching them harvesting in the outworld.

Harvester ants need a higher temperature for their proper brood development so 25-26°C would be great. Temperature above 28°C will endanger the queen ant!


Ants' Escape Prevention

Harvester ants are not the best climbers but if you do not want to deal with escaped ants, which is a common issue while you feed them, apply about an inch wide of our PTFE Fluon.



To remain healthy, your queen and worker ants require proper hibernation during the winter months, but it's not a must during your ant colony's first year. The Messor Barbarus ants hibernate through the winter starting at the end of November and wake up around late February/early March. To hibernate, the temperature of the nest needs to be reduced to around 15 degrees Celsius, which is not too cold for the ants to survive.


Find out everything you need to know about the harvester ants on our Blog Page:

How to look after a Messor Barbarus (Harvester Ants Care)?



Please download the Ants' Care Sheet HERE



We are raising our colonies from a queen ourselves.

We provide you with healthy and fertile queen ants.

We guarantee live queen arrival.

We post Royal Mail 24 ONLY.


Guarantee: The queen is guaranteed to be alive on arrival.

In case your queen is DOA please message us.

These ants are not native to the UK so if you do not want to keep and care for them anymore please do not release them into the wild. Contact us and we'll take care of everything.

Harvester Ants - Messor Barbarus Live Queen Ant Colony

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