Pogonomyrmex occidentalis - Western Harvester Ant
Lassen Co., Northern California, USA

photograph © Alex Wild 2004

Mating can be dramatic in harvester ants.  Winged male and female ants fly away from their home nests to certain congrating sites where they encounter ants from other nests.  Males- the black insects here- will often form chaotic "mating balls" where they struggle to gain access to a single female. 

USA, CA, Lassen Co.: Hallelujah Junction.
18.vii.2004, 39º46'N 120º04'W, 1470m
Great Basin Desert, ex Chrysothamnus sp.
#AW2445, voucher specimens deposited at ALWC and MHNG.

This image is copyrighted by the photographer and cannot be used without permission. To obtain permission to use this image, please email Alex Wild. (alwild (at)  Most of the photographs on are reduced from their original size and compressed for more efficient web transmission.  In some cases, higher quality versions are available.

This image was captured with a Canon EOS D60, with a Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro USM lens.