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#1 Online dspdrew - Posted July 7 2014 - 1:27 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

The first storm of the 2014 monsoon season went through Phelan/Victorville, California area of the Mojave Desert July 4th. Knowing this, Chromerust and I headed out there the next day.

 

First we stopped at a spot in the foothills near Phelan around 8:30 in the morning, where we saw Pogonomyrmex californicus having another mating flight. There were also founding chambers all over the place, and we even found a few dealates running around. There's tons of Messor andrei nests at this location, but none of them were active at all at this time.

 

Next we drove straight to the area that showed the most intense rain on the radar yesterday. On the way there I was starting to get a little worried as everything looked bone dry, but just as we got within a couple miles of that location, we started seeing lots of very large puddles and mud all over the road, so we knew we were in the right spot. We stopped at a place near the El Mirage Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Area, close to the intersection of Mountain View Rd, and El Mirage Rd, around 9:30 am and started looking around.

 

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First we hiked around on the eastern side of the road, where we saw plenty P. rugosus, P. californicus, and Messor pergandei, but no dealates, founding chambers or any signs of a mating flight. Finally we noticed one P. rugosus nest that actually had alates taking off, but we just weren't sure exactly where they were headed. After a little more walking around, we decided to go back to the roadside since that always seems to be the best place to find find queens, and sure enough we found the first P. rugosus dealate. We crossed the road over to the western side, and there were tons of them. By this time it was about 11:00 am, and there were so many flying around that they were hitting us in the face. We definitely picked the perfect spot, as we both took home quite a few queens.

 

 

 

There were so many founding chambers, some were just inches apart.

 

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I noticed these don't dig their nests into the side of a hill or lump of dirt the way P. californicus seem to do, instead they dig them almost straight down right on the flat ground.

 

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Some were completely circular.

 

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This one didn't pick the best place for her nest.

 

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P. rugosus queens digging their founding chambers.

 

 

 

I managed to catch a queen removing her wings on video.

 

 

 

Aside from the P. rugosus queens, we also found one Forelius sp. queen, and dug up the biggest Dorymyrmex insanus queen I have ever seen. After getting home and comparing them, I could see this one was about two millimeters larger than all my other D. insanus queens.

 

Messor pergandei attacking some Pheidole gilvescens.

 


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#2 Online dspdrew - Posted July 7 2014 - 1:32 PM

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After we left this spot, we decided to get some food and on the way I got my truck washed.

 

 

Just before I started videoing, the rain was coming down so hard I couldn't see anything but gray, and had to actually stop driving. That's when I decided to grab the phone and take some video, but by the time it started recording, the rain had let up a little.

 

Next we stopped at this place in Victorville. The rock formations here were so weird it almost looked like we were walking around on another planet.

 

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Here we found more P. rugosus, P. californicus, Messor pergandei, S. xyloni (queen), S. molesta, Formica francoeuri, Liometopum occidentale, and Myrmecocystus sp..

 

S. molesta nuptial flight.

 

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We will definitely be back out in the desert again very soon.


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#3 Offline LAnt - Posted July 7 2014 - 5:05 PM

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So what were your totals?



#4 Online dspdrew - Posted July 7 2014 - 6:31 PM

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50 or so.



#5 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 7 2014 - 6:47 PM

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Well I am going back to the desert ASAP. What are my chances if I go on Wednesday?


Edited by Gregory2455, July 7 2014 - 6:49 PM.


#6 Online dspdrew - Posted July 7 2014 - 7:00 PM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

I can't remember exactly what I saw on the radar yesterday, but it might have poured rain in that same spot again. Even if it did though, I can almost guarantee you would find a few of them if you went there, even on Wednesday. If you see anything that looks like it was a founding chamber, dig it up and you will probably find a queen. I think you might even find some still wondering around, because there were just so many of them. The dirt there is really soft and simple to dig up. If you stop at that same location, just look for the really big puddle, because there were TONS of them all around it.



#7 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 8 2014 - 10:37 PM

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The image you provided does not have the pixelation to show what the street names are for that location, can you please tell me?



#8 Online dspdrew - Posted July 8 2014 - 11:57 PM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Sorry it's Mountain View Rd, and El Mirage Rd. I fixed the post. I guess I figured anyone that wanted to find it would see Hwy 18 and Hwy 395, and look it up on Google.



#9 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 9 2014 - 11:36 AM

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I am on my way right now.  :D



#10 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 9 2014 - 10:51 PM

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Well, I went to the place, It was amazing. The puddle is still there, and there are founding chambers EVERYWHERE.

I ended up coming home with the following queens:

8 Pogonomyrmex rugosus

1 Pogonomyrmex californicus (Bicolor)

1 What I think to be Solenopsis xyloni

1 What I think to be Solenopsis molesta

 

Totalling, 11 Queens  :D

Thanks for the awesome location.



#11 Online dspdrew - Posted July 10 2014 - 4:19 AM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Nice! Glad it was worth the trip. That's funny because those are all the species we saw flying that day. The Pogonomyrmex californicus (bicolor) was your best score I think.



#12 Offline LAnt - Posted July 10 2014 - 11:50 AM

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Gregory, how long were you looking for?

Might go this weekend and launch a rocket while were there.


Edited by LAnt, July 10 2014 - 11:50 AM.


#13 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 10 2014 - 1:26 PM

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I was there all day traveling to different locations (Mainly because I had trouble finding Mountain View). I caught all of the queens except for the P.californicus bicolor at the location where it was suggested (El Mirage & Mountain View). I caught the P.californicus bicolor about one or two miles west of the location along El Mirage Rd. Overall, I was apmt El Mirage & Mountain View from 6:30pm to 9:30pm, and I could've caught more queens, but I ran out of test tubes.  :(



#14 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 10 2014 - 3:13 PM

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LAnt what are your current colonies? Put them in the cenus.

http://forum.formicu...s-of-the-forum/



#15 Online dspdrew - Posted July 10 2014 - 11:49 PM

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We drove out to another area in the desert today (Landers), where I saw a very small, but pretty intense storm go through on the radar two days ago, and sure enough we found it. We saw pretty much all the same ants, including a few more P. rugosus founding chambers. I didn't bother taking anymore P. rugosus queens, just a few Pheidole specimens to get pictures of later.

 

After stopping at another location where it hadn't rained, and also stopping at White Water Preserve near Cabazon, where it also hasn't rained in seven months, I realized that hardly any ants even come out at all until the area gets some rain. We had been wondering about this the last few times we went to the desert and didn't find anything, and now we're pretty sure about it. At least from now on, I know that in these desert spots, if it hasn't rained there within a month at least, there probably aren't going to be any ants out, and going there will be a waste of time. I did however, just 10 seconds after mentioning how weird it was that I have never seen a snake in all my time spent out in the desert, find a young brown and white King Snake. I'll post pictures of it later in the off-topic subforum.



#16 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 11 2014 - 12:18 AM

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In other places, ants hibernate from cold. In SoCal, they hibernate from lack of water.  :D



#17 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted July 11 2014 - 12:18 AM

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I want a Pheidole species.  :(



#18 Online dspdrew - Posted July 11 2014 - 7:08 AM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Yeah, I really want one of these desert Pheidole species. I had six P. xerophila I found during my first trip to the desert last year, but they all died. I've had a small species of Pheidole since early last summer, but I just recently noticed the queen is MIA, which explains the steady population decrease I have seen over the last few months, so that colony is doomed. No more Pheidole for me now. :(







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: mojave desert, anting, dspdrew, chromerust, monsoon season, phelan, victorville, california, pogonomyrmex californicus, mating flight, nuptial flight, founding chambers, pogonomyrmex rugosus, messor pergandei, queens, forelius, dorymyrmex insanus, solenopsis molesta, pheidole gilvescens

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