Backstory: I’ve been into ants for more than 20 years. For the past 2 years I have been trying to find a queen on my own but ran out of patience and just purchased a small Veromessor Pergandei colony from the GAN project.
I found this ant in my home office at 10pm at night (last night on 9/12), just inside of a sliding glass door that has a small gap that bugs and lizards frequently slip through. My house is situated out in the country with rolling valleys. I am surrounded by mostly farm fields (Apples) with patches of Redwood groves.
Based on my measuring tape, this ant is ~9/16th of an inch long, maybe even a bit longer depending on how it stretches itself. My yard is landscaped with a small redwood grove, but the property is bordered on two sides by 100+ acre apple orchards that are organic dry farmed, so they are quite dusty and dry.
The ant is almost all jet black, but there is what looks like slight reddish highlights on the top of the legs where they meet the thorax. As far as I can tell the ant is mostly hairless aside from some slight hairs on the gaster, which you can see in one of the pictures. The ant does not have a sting.
I assume that this ant is a queen because I have never seen an ant remotely this large near my house in the 20 years I’ve lived here. The only ants that I have seen this large are carpenter ant majors hundreds of miles away that I’ve found while camping. It does look like it has the scars where wings would be, similar to the Pergandei queen that I have. I just had no idea that there were any nuptial flights this late in the year. I looked outside in my yard and the neighboring orchards for 15 minutes with a flashlight after capturing this ant but could not find any others wandering around.
As far as I know, other than a few different species of pavement-type ants, there is only one species of large ant that has been found remotely near my house and it is the native harvester ants here. They are extremely rare, but they have massive colonies with large lines of pure black ants running hundreds of feet. All of the workers are the same size .They have these massive, flat, irregular disk-shaped mounds of spent seeds that can be a couple of feet across. These ants do not have stings but are rather large and have pretty painful bites. When I purchased my Veromessor Pergandei colony, I was hoping that they would be the same, but Veromessor Pergandei are much smaller than these ants.