Ants of the Navajo Reservation

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A Field Guide to the Ants of the Navajo Reservation


  • Gary Alpert
  • Beverly Maxwell
  • David Lubertazzi
  • Stefan Cover
  • Marek Borowiec
  • Naomi Pierce
  • Patrick McCormack
  • Monica Mowery
  • Arnold Clifford

The Navajo Reservation covers more than 26,000 square miles, making it larger than 10 of the 50 states within the United States. Navajo land is located between the mountains of Colorado and Utah and the low deserts of Arizona and New Mexico. This region includes a diverse range of habitats from high mountains at more than 10,000 feet, down into deep canyons, numerous mesas, tributaries of the Colorado River and lower elevation semi-arid deserts. The Navajo Ant Project is dedicated to the discovery of the ant biodiversity on this fascinating land and to integrating traditional Navajo cultural values with the modern scientific method.


Ya'at'eeh (Hello).The Navajo Ant Project's [1] goal is to integrate traditional Navajo cultural values with the modern scientific method as it explores the ant biodiversity on the Navajo Reservation.

The Navajo Ant Project is the first comprehensive scientific field study of the distribution and abundance of ants on Navajo Nation land. Harvard University collaborators are contributing expertise in teaching, ant identification, field work, insect photography and experimental design. They are collaborating with Navajo students and Navajo teaching staff to conduct and publish research on the biodiversity of ants. Special habitat areas of interest have been selected as field sites for the study of ant diversity. Different elevations, soil types and plant communities have been chosen to maximize the potential to collect a diverse number of ants. The Navajo ant research team will use the latest in Global Information System (GIS) technology and field collecting techniques to study the role of native ants in the ecology and conservation of biodiversity.

We hope to motivate and encourage Navajo people to study and appreciate the diversity on their lands and to protect and to cherish these resources for future generations. List of ant species found on the Navajo Reservation (24 genera and 100 species).

Pogonomyrmex 4743.jpg

To everyone who is interested in Navajo ants.

Ants and Navajo culture

Ants are an important symbol in Navajo culture and tradition.

Basic ant biology | Behavior

Life history, cycle, ant categories (sting, bite), foraging (seeds, raid)

Photographing and Collecting Ants

Equipment. Where to start where to go and what characters to see, polymorpholoy. Photography to see upclose.

Geography and Habitat

Sandy, woodland, elevation, nest craters, mesas, Grand Canyon, Plants.

Identifying ants

Using a key (genera, species), Important traits.

Subfamily Diversity

Sortable table
Subfamily genera species
Dolichoderinae 4 6
Ecitoninae 1 2
Formicinae 6 47
Myrmicinae 12 49
Ponerinae 1 1
Totals 24 105
Sortable table
Genus #-species #-subspecies #-morphospecies total-#-species Subfamily Taxonomic Status
Dorymyrmex 2 2 4 Dolichoderinae fair
Forelius 1 1 Dolichoderinae fair
Liometopum 2 2 Dolichoderinae good
Tapinoma 1 1 Dolichoderinae poor
Neivamyrmex 2 2 Ecitoninae good
Brachymyrmex 1 1 Formicinae poor
Camponotus 8 8 Formicinae fair
Formica 19 19 Formicinae fair
Lasius 12 12 Formicinae good
Myrmecocystus 6 6 Formicinae good
Polyergus 1 1 Formicinae good
Aphaenogaster 2 2 Myrmicinae poor
Crematogaster 4 4 Myrmicinae poor
Formicoxenus 1 1 Myrmicinae good
Leptothorax 3 3 Myrmicinae fair
Veromessor 2 2 Myrmicinae fair
Monomorium 1 1 2 Myrmicinae fair
Myrmica 5 5 Myrmicinae poor
Pheidole 9 9 Myrmicinae poor
Pogonomyrmex 6 6 Myrmicinae good
Solenopsis 3 3 Myrmicinae fair
Stenamma 3 3 Myrmicinae fair
Temnothorax 6 6 Myrmicinae good
Hypoponera 1 1 Ponerinae good

Key to Ant Genera of the Navajo Reservation

Use this illustrated key to the twenty-four ant genera known from the Navajo Reservation. At each genus page you will find a separate key to species.











See Key to Lasius species of the Navajo Reservation


See Leptothorax of the Navajo Reservation