Fontana1 December 2022
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 Fontana Road Trip PAGE 1: Dec 2022 - Feb 2023 
  Go To Fontana Road Trip Page 2  
Cameras: Nikon D-90 (ant macros), Sony HX-60 & iPhone 12
W.P. Armstrong 13 Dec. 2022 & 17 Feb. 2023
A short road trip to survey ants in undeveloped land under high voltage transmission lines passing through dense housing development in Fontana, California. Urbanization, including landscaped housing tracts has resulted in the displacement of native, seed-harvesting ant colonies, including Veromessor, Pogonomyrmex & Pheidole. The Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center & California Botanic Garden (Formerly Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden) were also visited.
2 Road Trips in Cucamonga-Fontana Area (Dec 2022 & Feb 2023)

  1. Fontana: 5-12 December 2022  
  2. Cucamonga: 15-20 February 2023   

PART I: Fontana Area

Two Common & Widespread Harvester Ant Species: Pogonomyrmex & Veromessor

High voltage transmission lines through housing tracts in Fontana, CA provide a refuge for native seed gathering harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex). Non-native Argentine ants (Linepithema) can live in the housing tracts and even within the walls of homes.

Veromessor pergandei (formerly Messor pergandei), a shiny black harvester ant. This species is polymorphic with workers of different sizes.

On 22 June 2023, Myrmecologist James des Lauriers verified the following ant species from this location: Veromessor pergandei, Linepithema humile, Dorymyrmex insanus, and Pogonomyrmex californicus. Regarding the latter harvester ant, there was a mating emergence in the last couple of days, including young queens starting new nests. He did not find an active Pheidole nest, but was surprised to find Argentine ants (L. humile) at this typically dry location.

A: Magnified view of the head of a desert harvester ant (Veromessor pergandei). Veromessor species are also called "smooth" harvester ants. B: California harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex californicus). Note hairs and parallel vertical lines (grooves) on red harvester ant. Pogonomyrmex species are also called "rough" harvester ants.

I Am Reasonably Certain That My Exoskeleton Of Ant
Head Is Harvester Ant (Pogonomyrmex), Not Pheidole!

A Minute, Seed-Harvesting Ant Species: Big-Headed Ant (Pheidole)
Ant head exoskeleton is Pogonomyrmex, NOT Pheidole major worker.

GPS location of Pheidole nest recorded 16 Feb 2023 on very windy, cold day. Minor workers were observed around the nest entrance.

  N 34.120598, W 117.502550  

The nest of this Pheidole species is small and inconspicuous. The outer edge of some nests have a pile of dead ant body parts (midden).

Pheidole minor worker & remains of harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex) head.

As I stated above, Pheidole species are extremely difficult to identify. Based upon many images on Wayne's Word and the remarkable images on Antweb, I am reasonably certain this Pheidole belongs to the Pilifera Group. James des Lauriers (Personal Communication, 2023) suggested P. pilifera or P. rugulosa.

  Antwiki Key To The Pheidole Pilifera Group  

Importance of Rugae in Pheidole Species Identification
In following image of Pheidole californica in Twin Oaks Valley, San Diego County, there are horizontal rugae on the occipital lobes of major workers. I have observed rugae pattern on a Pheidole head collected in a nest in coastal sage scrub near Palomar College. Based on larger size and dark color of workers (compared with P. californica) I think it may be P. clementensis; however, I have yet to find an intact major worker to verify species ID.

The horizontal rugae & eye position on this ant head exoskeleton rule out Pogonomyrmex in favor of a Pheidole major worker.

An Eclipse (Occultation) Of Mars By Our Moon
An Event Seldom Seen By Mortal Humans

Full moon 7 Dec. 2022: A marvelous lunar eclipse (occultation) of Mars. An exciting event on my road trip to Fontana, CA. When I first saw the small red object move behind the moon I thought it was a tiny moon in an orbit around our moon, or I was hallucinating!

Partial Solar Eclipse Over Power Lines 8 April 2024
This Is My Facebook Trivia Note Following Eclipse

I once found an unusual ant head under HV power lines in Fontana. On day of recent solar eclipse, I searched for this ant colony under power lines where land is vacant. I didn't find ant, but I did capture partial solar eclipse!

On This Day I Also Discovered Sandmat (Cardionema ramosissimum)

This low-growing (prostrate), native perennial of the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae) has an enormous distribution on coastal beaches and sand dunes. It extends from the Pacific northwest to South America! I have encountered it in throughout coastal San Diego County. Its common name of "tread lightly" refers to the spiny foliage, particularly the spine-tipped sepals (calyx) surrounding flowers & seed-bearing fruits (utricles). The latter common name is especially noteworthy if you are bare-footed. The flowers are minute, roughly the size of an ordinary pinhead (diameter 1.5 mm).

Nearby California Botanic Garden

Chaparral Currant: A Beautiful Shrub In San Gabriel Mtns &
A Good Photo Test For The Quality Of An iPhone 12 Camera

Chaparral Currant (Ribes malvaceum), a beautiful native shrub in canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains. It belongs to the gooseberry family (Grossulariaceae), and was formerly placed in the saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae). This is one of my favorite shrubs that I learned in Plant Taxonomy at Cal State LA (LA State) in the early 1960s.

Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center

Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center is a natural history park with a fascinating museum & trails winding through full-sized metal dinosaurs. The Jurupa Mountains are a small range in Riverside County, California. They are part of the Peninsular Ranges that extend from Banning Pass south to the tip of Baja California.

PART II: Elsinore & Cucamonga Area 15-20 Feb. 2023

California poppies are back again this spring near Lake Elsinore. These 2 images were taken 4 years apart from moving vehicle in center lane of I-15: Feb 15, 2023 & March 25, 2019. 2023 promises to be a good spring for wildflowers, but not from the center lane of freeway!

Elsinore poppies on return trip from Cucamonga (20 Feb. 2023).

Unpollinated Date Palms With Parthenocarpic Fruits

I Wasn't Alone In My Hotel Room!

Sony T-10

Nikon D-90

A Rare Root Parasite I Have Not Seen In 40 Years!

I originally photographed this seldom-seen parasitic flowering plant in the 1980s on the campus of Pomona College in Clarement, California. It was pushing up through the soil and leaves under a coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), presumably parasitic on the roots of latter oak species. It is also reportedly parasitic on the roots of elderberry (Sambucus mexicana). I have searched this location many times since the 1980s; however, I have never seen this remarkable root parasite since those early days.

View of Mt. Baldy from campus of Pomona College in Claremont, CA. Photo taken under coast live oak, near location of broomrape discovery in the 1980s.

A Minute, Seed-Harvesting Ant Species: Big-Headed Ant (Pheidole)

GPS location of Pheidole nest recorded 16 Feb 2023 on very windy, cold day. Minor workers were observed around the nest entrance.

  N 34.120598, W 117.502550  

  Go Up To Pheidole Images On This Page  

Open (Vacant) Fields Dominated By Yellow Fiddlenecks (Amsinckia)

This is probably Amsinckia intermedia (A. menziesii var. intermedia).