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#1 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 24 2015 - 6:18 PM

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Mojave Desert Anting (7/24/2015)

Introduction

After all the rain in the desert, and with everyone else catching queens, I knew I had to get out there as well, I just did not have time! I ended up leaving Simi Valley at around 6:45 PM, and ended up getting out to the desert by around 8:00 PM! :lol:

Collection

I ended up stopping just east of Crystalaire, CA. At first I just stopped to see if there were founding chambers on he ground at all. To my surprise, there was one right there. I dug it up and out jumped a Myrmecocystus sp. queen. I decided to look around a little bit more here, and it turned out the ground was littered with founding chambers. Within an hour, it got dark, and I already had around 6 queens. Well I did not just come for an hour so I grabbed my new headlamp and kept going.

 

I also turned my new black light on, because Dorymyrmex insanus and Pheidole gilvescens seemed to be flying still. Well, more than that was flying... Within an hour, I had about 1,000 Crematogaster sp. males and 100-300 females on the sheet. It was insane!

If you zoom in on this picture you may see hundreds and hundreds of tiny specks my camera had a hard time focusing on. These are all male Crematogaster!!!

 

Then of course by now, all the nocturnal ants were out. I found this massive colony of Myrmecocystus mexicanus active, and had to record them. :D

 

At around midnight I took a break, had a bite to eat, and collected all the vials with queens in them (all of them) into the same location. I sat around for an hour there test tubing queens on the spot because I ran out of collecting vials. Then, I went back to collecting, and found a few more Myrmecocystus queens.

 

At about 2:00 I was feeling really good about all the Myrmecocystus I had, but was worried because I only caught 4 Pogonomyrmex rugosus queens, so I packed up, and was off to a spot where Pogonomyrmex rugosus were plentiful last year. I will not be sharing the location of this spot, because it belongs to someone else who is not a member here, but sure enough there were plenty of Pogonomyrmex rugosus founding chambers there. I also found something weird. There was a mature colony of Pogonomyrmex rugosus active right there, at 2:50 AM! I thought these were diurnal ants, but I guess the continue operating after the dark too.

Anyway, within ten minutes after arrival I had nine more Pogonomyrmex rugosus and two more Myrmecocystus mexicanus queens. By the time this was happening, it was 3:00 AM, so after this it was time to get home.


Edited by Gregory2455, February 20 2019 - 9:36 PM.

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#2 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 24 2015 - 6:23 PM

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Result

Once I got home I counted up everything I caught. Here is the whole list:

  • 80 Crematogaster sp.
  • 7   Dorymyrmex insanus 
  • 6   Myrmecocystus mexicanus
  • 3   Myrmecocystus navajo
  • 9   Myrmecocystus sp.1
  • 6   Pheidole gilvescens
  • 12 Pogonomyrmex rugosus

I filled up an entire box with test tubes... :sarcastic:

 

Crematogaster sp. Queens before being placed into individual test tubes.

 

Myrmecocystus sp.1

 

Pogonomyrmex rugosus

 

Pheidole gilvescens

 

Myrmecocystus navajo

 

Dorymyrmex insanus (Note: I really was not going to bring these home, but it seems like the desert variation of these are larger by about 2-3mm.)

 

Myrmecocystus mexicanus (Note: Come in two color variations: all yellow and striped gaster.)

________________________________________________________________________________

 

Myrmecocystus mexicanus extra stuff:

 

Striped-gaster variant.

 

All-yellow variant.

 

Oops... First test tube I broke this year... Good thing the queen did not get hurt. :sarcastic:

 


Edited by Gregory2455, July 24 2015 - 7:27 PM.

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#3 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 24 2015 - 6:26 PM

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A Couple Days After

About 24 hours after I got back (at about 4:00 AM on 7/23/15 :lol:) I decided to give the Myrmecocystus spp, Pogonomyrmex rugosus, and Pheidole gilvescens some sand to dig in and walk on, in their test tubes just to make them more comfortable. I did this because I have nowhere else to put 18 Myrmecocystus queens except test tubes, but they do horrible in test tubes, so I can at least say I did everything I could for them. I gave it to the Pogonomyrmex and Pheidole because I figured it would help them as well. The Pheidole and Myrmecocystus sp.1 got really into it and made holes for themselves to perch in. They have since laid a lot of eggs too and are caring for them. I think as of now, it was the right call to do so for them. The Dorymyrmex and Crematogaster should be fine without it.

 

Accidentally had the flash on for two photos and got this funny picture: "Walking into the Light". :lol:

 

 

 

Conclusion

I was not going to have a conclusion here, but I found something that cannot be overlooked. I would make a proper graph, but who has time for that. To some people this will be nothing new, but I found a linear relation between a founding chamber's distance from the closest Veromessor pergandei colony, and the success rate of finding a queen in that founding chamber. I found that the closer a founding chamber is to a Veromessor pergandei colony, the lesser the chance of finding a queen in that chamber. The overall success rate of finding queens in founding chambers at the first location was about 4/12. The success rate of the second location, where there were no Veromessor pergandei colonies was 10/12. The success rate of a founding chamber that was within 3 yards of a Veromessor pergandei colony was about 1/12 while those founding chambers farther than 10 yards from the nearest Veromessor colony was about 7/12. I did not find this with any other species. I found queens in founding chambers that were right next to Pheidole, Myrmecocystus, or Dorymyrmex colonies, but never Veromessor colonies. Also, I found Veromessor workers inside sealed founding chambers with no queens to be seen multiple times, and there was even one queen I dug from a sealed founding chamber with a dead Veromessor worker attached to her leg. This is not that big of a deal, I just found it interesting that Veromessor seem to prey on founding chambers while other species do not.

 

Myrmecocystus sp.1 queen caught from a sealed founding chamber with a Veromessor worker clamped to her leg, now separated but displayed on top of her test tube for this image.


Edited by Gregory2455, July 24 2015 - 7:22 PM.

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#4 Offline Chall - Posted July 24 2015 - 6:29 PM

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Nice

#5 Offline nurbs - Posted July 24 2015 - 6:39 PM

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Good stuff!


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#6 Offline stuhrike - Posted July 24 2015 - 8:18 PM

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Yeah, I have to agree with you about the veromessors.  
I noticed a lot of new founding chambers in my yard but all of the ones closest to veromessor nests were empty.  


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#7 Offline BugFinder - Posted July 24 2015 - 8:44 PM

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Really nice!  Congratulations!!


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#8 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 24 2015 - 9:02 PM

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Nice

 

Good stuff!

 

Really nice!  Congratulations!!

 

Thanks guys. :D



#9 Offline William. T - Posted July 25 2015 - 4:29 AM

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We have a Pheidole here in Maryland tyat does this. I find Camponotus queens in logs dead with the workers swarming over them, and dead workers lying around the chambers.


Species I keep:

 

1 Lasius cf. Neoniger 30 workers

1 Camponotus sp. 15 workers

20 Tetramorium SpE 30 workers

1 T. Sessile 200 workers

 


#10 Offline Ants4fun - Posted July 25 2015 - 7:37 AM

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Awesome! It is too easy to find queens in the desert! Up north it is a struggle.
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#11 Offline dspdrew - Posted July 25 2015 - 10:10 AM

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I see P. rugosus out at night a lot in the desert.

 

I also noticed a lot of founding chambers had been raided by Veromessor pergandei. They aren't the only ones though, I have seen quite a few that had gotten raided by Solenopsis xyloni too. I even found a half eaten queen with them all over it. Usually unless the species just flew, and were actively digging their nests, I wouldn't even bother with a founding chamber that wasn't closed up, because they most certainly were raided and killed. In addition to other ants, I saw lots chambers dug up by rodents as well, but quite a few of those still had healthy queens inside them. i guess the rodents weren't as good at hunting them as the ants are.



#12 Offline kellakk - Posted July 25 2015 - 12:59 PM

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I saw P. rugosus and S. xyloni inside founding chambers.  I remember reading that nuptial flights of both ants and termites are a big feast for many of the animals out in the desert, especially since there's not a lot of food to be had elsewhere.


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#13 Offline Foogoo - Posted July 25 2015 - 8:25 PM

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Wow, it seems like evening is ideal for anting. Would you be willing to share the non-P. rugosus location(s)?


Camponotus vicinus, Crematogaster 1, Crematogaster 2, Formica francoeuri, *, *, Myrmecocystus testaceus, Novomessor cockerelli, Pheidole hyatti, Pogonomyrmex californicus, Pogonomyrmex rugosus, Solenopsis invicta


#14 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 25 2015 - 8:31 PM

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Wow, it seems like evening is ideal for anting. Would you be willing to share the non-P. rugosus location(s)?

Oh yeah. The place where I found all the Myrmecocystus... Here is the approximate location where I was. I would think it is too late to go out and dig some up by now, as I am sure they are probably more than a foot underground by now... I would wait for the next rain and see if they have a second flight.


Edited by Gregory2455, July 25 2015 - 8:33 PM.


#15 Offline Foogoo - Posted July 25 2015 - 8:34 PM

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Wow, it seems like evening is ideal for anting. Would you be willing to share the non-P. rugosus location(s)?

Oh yeah. The place where I found all the Myrmecocystus... Here is the approximate location where I was. I would think it is too late to go out and dig some up by now, as I am sure they are probably more than a foot underground by now... I would wait for the next rain and see if they have a second flight.

 

Great, thanks! I still can't believe you caught that many Crematogaster:o


Camponotus vicinus, Crematogaster 1, Crematogaster 2, Formica francoeuri, *, *, Myrmecocystus testaceus, Novomessor cockerelli, Pheidole hyatti, Pogonomyrmex californicus, Pogonomyrmex rugosus, Solenopsis invicta


#16 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 25 2015 - 8:38 PM

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Wow, it seems like evening is ideal for anting. Would you be willing to share the non-P. rugosus location(s)?

Oh yeah. The place where I found all the Myrmecocystus... Here is the approximate location where I was. I would think it is too late to go out and dig some up by now, as I am sure they are probably more than a foot underground by now... I would wait for the next rain and see if they have a second flight.

 

Great, thanks! I still can't believe you caught that many Crematogaster:o

 

Yeah, I am definitely going to have a lot for sale...



#17 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted August 11 2015 - 12:11 AM

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Here is a Crematogaster queen that was caught on the black-light. I can say that most of the 80 or so queens are fertile! Also the Pheidole and Myrmecocystus have lots of larvae by now.



#18 Offline Here for the honeypots - Posted August 29 2015 - 5:46 PM

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You'll have some for sale? I'm definitely a buyer if you're having trouble.

#19 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted August 30 2015 - 5:56 PM

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I will not be selling Myrmecocystus.

#20 Offline William. T - Posted August 30 2015 - 6:17 PM

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You'll have some for sale? I'm definitely a buyer if you're having trouble.

You live in Nevada. You can't buy a queen across state lines.


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Species I keep:

 

1 Lasius cf. Neoniger 30 workers

1 Camponotus sp. 15 workers

20 Tetramorium SpE 30 workers

1 T. Sessile 200 workers

 






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: anting, crystalaire, mojave desert, high desert, founding chamber, trip, myrmecocystus, myrmecocystus navajo, myrmecocystus mexicanus, pogonomyrmex, pogonomyrmex rugosus, pheidole, pheidole gilvescens, dorymyrmex, dorymyrmex insanus, blacklight, black light, crematogaster

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