Salton Sea Trip #5
Wayne's Word Index Noteworthy Plants Trivia Lemnaceae Biology 101 Botany Scenic Wildflowers Trains Spiders & Insects Search
     Home        Part 1        Part 2        Part 3        Part 4        Part 5        Part 6        Part 7        Part 8        Part 9  
Ants At The Salton Sea & Blythe Area #2

Harvester Ant Nests (Craters)

Saltbush (Atriplex polycarpa) and large harvester ant nest.

The common saltbush species on the north side of the Salton Sea is Atriplex polycarpa (D). The one-seeded fruit (utricle) of this species is collected in great numbers by harvester ants. After extracting the seeds underground, the empty husks are piled up outside the entrance to their nests. See following two images.
An assortment of winged, one-seeded fruits (utricles) of saltbushes (Atriplex) from the Mojave and Colorado Deserts of the southwestern United States. Saltbushes belong to the goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae). From left: (A) A. canescens, (B) A. confertifolia, (C) A. hymenelytra, (D) A. polycarpa and (E) A. parryi.

Empty husks (utricles) piled up by harvester ants.

Messor (Harvester Ant)

Pogonomyrmex (Harvester Ant)

Probably Pogonomyrmex californicus.

Orange Desert Ant: Genus Forelius

Old Military Belt Links In The Sand

Harvester ant nest on north side of Salton Sea. The 3-ring metal object is an an old, rusty 50 caliber belt link. The steel links interlock and join 50 caliber cartridges into a linked belt for the Browning automatic machine gun. This was apparently a military training site, possibly for the World War II.

Old 50 caliber Browning Machine Gun (.50 BMG) casing (shell) and 50 caliber link found in the sand near harvester ant nests on north side of Salton Sea. The steel links interlock and join the 50 caliber cartridges into a linked belt. The U.S. penny (one cent) is 19 mm (0.76 in) or about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. This was obviously a military training area many decades ago.

The 50 caliber cartridges were linked together and fed into the Browning Machine Gun. When each cartridge was fired, the casing and belt link separated and were ejected. This explains the presence of old rusted belt links in the sand.
More About World War II .50 Caliber BMG Links:
  Article By Jerry Penry At