Borrego Part 4
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Borrego Valley March 2015 Part 4
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Honeypot Ant (Myrmecocystus sp.)

A honeypot ant near Hellhole Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Richard Vernier reported M. semirufus from Hellhole Canyon in 2008. Gordon C. Snelling (2008) said that M. mendax is very similar and may occur in this area.

The nest entrance of above honeypot ant. In general, the nests in this area have shallow craters with a relatively large circular entrance in center. They are not as well-defined as the craters of nearby harvester ants (Messor pergandei) and do not have the piles of seedless husks..

    According to Pinau Merlin (A Field Guide To Desert Holes, 2003): "Honeypot ant nests are hard to define, with no distinctive shape and no cone. The entrance hole is about 2 inches in diameter, and could be mistaken for a harvester ant hole."

In my opinion, harvester ant nests (Messor and Pogonomyrmex) usually have a distinct crater-like cone covered on the outside with dense layer of seedless husks from nearby shrubs and wildflowers. Myrmecocystus nests may have just a opening in the sand, or resemble shallow craters. Depending on the species and age of the colony, the crater-like nests of some Myrmecocystus can be quite distinct.

Honeypot ants at entrance to nest. The head of this species is bright red.

Close-up view of honeypot ant running around in white dish.

  Myrmecocystus semirufus? From Hellhole Canyon  
Honeypot Ants (Myrmecocystus) Of The Salton Sea