Messor is a myrmicine genus of ants with more than 100 species, all of which are harvester ants; the generic name comes from the Roman god of crops and harvest, Messor. The subterranean colonies tend to be found in open fields and near roadsides, openings are directly to the surface.

Messor barbarus princess.jpg
Messor barbarus queen with wings still attached
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Stenammini
Genus: Messor
Forel, 1890
Type species
Formica barbara[1]
Linnaeus, 1767
> 100 species

Cratomyrmex Emery, 1892
Lobognathus Enzmann, J., 1947

Colonies can achieve huge sizes and are notable for their intricately designed granaries in which seeds are stored in dry conditions, preventing germination. The structure of Messor spp. nests is complex and the genus on the whole is one of very accomplished architects.[citation needed]

Messor spp. are polymorphic and have a distinct caste of macrocephalic dinoergates whose role is carrying and cutting the large seeds which comprise much of the colonies' subsistence. Although they primarily feed on seeds, they occasionally eat insects and snails.[citation needed] Some snail shells possibly are taken into the nest because of their grain-like shape.[2]

Equipped with a tough, shining cuticle, Messor spp. are slow-moving and form long, seed-carrying runs. Colonies tend to be monogynous - founded by a single queen alone.[citation needed]


Messor sp. worker


  1. ^ Bolton, B. (2015). "Messor". AntCat. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  2. ^ Páll-Gergely, Barna; Péter Sólymos (2009). "Ants as shell collectors: notes on land snail shells found around ant nests". Malacologica Bohemoslovaca. 8: 14–18.

External linksEdit

  •   Media related to Messor at Wikimedia Commons