Joshua Tree NP April 2018 Part 8
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oshua Tree National Park April 2018 Part 8
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Scenic Images (1)

Joshua Tree National Park

  The Ant Fauna Of The Mojave National Preserve  

Ant Images (1)

Encounter Between Large Harvester Ant & Tiny Forelius

This large harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex californicus) is attempting to drag a caterpillar away from the tiny orange desert ants (Forelius pruinosus) even though it is being attacked by the smaller Forelius. Competition for food between desert ants is fierce.

The California Harvester Ant (Pogonomyrmex californicus)

While running on very hot sand this species raises its black gaster.

Harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex californicus) extracting nutlets from popcorn flower.

Harvester Ants (Pogonomyrmex) At The Old Kelso Train Depot

According to The Ant Fauna Of The Mojave National Preserve by Mark Ikeda and James des Lauriers there are 5 species of Pogonomyrmex in this region. The above species appears to be P. maricopa or possibly P. californicus. The two species are very similar in appearance. P. maricopa has a complex and very toxic venom. In fact, some authorities state that it has the most venomous sting in North America. According to Justin O. Schmidt The Sting of the Wild (2016), this is the most toxic known ant, wasp, or bee venom. it is 25 times more toxic than honey bee venom. Pogonomyrmex has a rating of 3.0 on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, and P. maricopa is apparently the most painful North American species with throbbing pain that can last for 8 hours.
Schmidt Sting Pain Index

Sting Rating
Comparison Analogy
Sweat Bee
Like a tiny spark has has singed a hair on your arm.
Fire Ant
Like walking on a carpet & getting a static electricity shock.
Bullhorn Acacia Ant
Like someone fired a staple into your cheek or hand.
Bald-Faced Hornet
Like getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
Like extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
Honey Bee
Like a burning matchhead that lands on your skin.
Red Harvester Ant
Like using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
Paper Wasp
Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
Pepsis Wasp
Like dropping a running hair drier into your bubble bath.
Bullet Ant
Walking on hot charcoals with 3 inch rusty nail in your heel.

According to the following Antwiki Key To North American Pogonomyrmex, the gasters of P. californicus are typically black compared with P. maricopa. In addition, P. maricopa has reduced or inconspicuous propodeal spines. The left image taken at the Kelso Depot appears to resemble on-line images of P. maricopa; however, I am not 100% certain.

  Key To The North American Pogonomyrmex  

A Dark-Colored Harvester Ant (Pogonomyrmex rugosus)

Pogonomyrmex rugosus also occurs in the Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Monument. It also has a painful sting that lasts for hours.