Messor barbarus


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Messor barbarus

Messor barbarus  is a very popular European Ant that alot of Ant-keepers keep. A hardy species that is easy to keep. Messor barbarus is a  Harvester Ant. They collect seeds and store them in a grainary within the nest. The larger Ants will chew these seeds to make ‘Ant bread’, which is their primary food source. They also feed off dead insects. Messor barbarus will not normally feed on honey/sugar water. They should have a supply of fresh drinking water, which must be protected from drowning.

Mixed seeds and Insect protein can be purchased from the  AntsMynala  web site to feed your  Messor  colonies.

Messor barbarus Red head  can produce different sized workers. The workers can reach up to 14mm in length, these particular workers are called Major workers.   The smaller workers are called Minor workers.

Messor barbarus Red head  will thrive at room temperature (above 21 °C), but may need an additional heater when the temperature is likely to fall below room temperature for an extended period of time.  You should always hibernate this species, especially so, if your Queen has not yet laid any eggs.

The nest should have both a dry and moist area. The dry area will be used to store the seeds and grains.

In nature the  Messor barbarus Red head  only has one Queen per colony.

This is a suitable species of Ant for beginners.


Latin Name:  Messor barbarus

English Name:   

Rearing Difficulty:  (1=Beginner, 5=Expert):  1, Easy

Temperature: Arena, 25-30 °C

                             Nest,    21-26 °C

Hibernation: Yes, November-February, at 15 °C

Humidity: Arena, 30-50%

                      Nest, 50-70%

Diet: Seeds, Grains,  Insect protein, Flies, Crickets, Cockroaches, Seeds,

Length/Description: Queen, 15-18mm long, Black body with a Black, Brown-Red Head.

Length/Description: Workers, 3-14mm long, Black, Major workers have a Brown-Red Head.

Queen Starting Out:  Claustral (without feeding)

Development of Worker: 7-8 weeks (depending on the temperature)

Nest Suitability:  Ytong, Acrylic, Glass, Soil.

Minimum Tube/Connector Diameter:  9mm.

Colony Size:  7000

Life Span of Queen: 20-25 years.

Distribution: Southern Europe, Spain, North Africa, Asia.


These ants are not native to the UK and is therefore illegal to release them into the wild. Please contact AntsMynala if you no longer wish to keep them and we will arrange for them to be collected from you at no cost.


Additional information

Colony size

Queen only, Queen + 1-5, Queen + 6-10, Queen + 11-20


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