Wayne's Trivia Notes #11
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Wayne's Trivia Note #347 (7 April 2016)

Four ants that I played with & misidentified at age 10. My First Affair With Ants

Wayne's Trivia Note #348 (9 April 2016)

My favorite ants on Owens Peak (Pheidole vistana) definitely attack & kill other ant species. They also like Nature Valley Oats 'n Honey Granola Bars. In fact, I always share my bars with them!

Wayne's Trivia Note #349 (9 April 2016)

Have you ever tried to pick up dry, loose sand with fine-tipped forceps? This desert ant is adapted to this habitat. Sand spilling out of mandibles is caught in the long hairs on underside of its head. See Illustration.

Wayne's Trivia Note #350 (13 April 2016)

A man in Singapore once offered me a rare "coconut pearl" for $60,000 US; however, palms do not produce calcareous (aragonite) pearls like mollusks. Coconut pearls are another hoax (myth) like Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster. For more information: See Wayne's Word: Authenticity Of Coconut Pearls.

Wayne's Trivia Note #351 (20 April 2016)

Rock Hill, one of 5 young volcanic buttes (domes) at the southern end of the Salton Sea. This one is composed of rhyolite. Nearby Obsidian Butte contains rhyolite and obsidian (volcanic glass). A 2012 study indicates they may have erupted less than 3,000 years ago. Several power plants are located in this active geothermal area. Superheated brine from deep underground drives steam turbines to produce enough electricity for more than 300,000 homes.

These domes are located above the plate boundary between the Pacific Plate to the west and the North American Plate to the east. Deep underground the plates are moving away from each other forming a spreading center. This area is the northern most part of the East Pacific Rise which is a series of spreading centers that extends southward beneath the Gulf of California. As the plates move away from each other, magma from deep in the earth wells up to fill in the gap that is created. This large body of magma is tapped by the many geothermal power plants in the area and is often called the Salton Sea Geothermal Field. The San Andreas Fault is just east of this fascinating geological area.

View from summit of Rock Hill at south end of the Salton Sea. Inset shows a nearby geothermal power plant.

An analysis of earthquakes in the area around the Salton Sea Geothermal Field has found a strong correlation between seismic activity and production of geothermal power, which involves pumping water into and out of an underground reservoir. According to seismologist Emily Brodsky (Science Vol 341, Issue 6145, 02 August 2013), the location of the geothermal field at the southern end of the San Andreas fault is cause for concern due to the possibility of inducing a damaging earthquake. This fault is capable of unleashing extremely destructive earthquakes of at least magnitude 8. University of California Santa Cruz Newsletter

Wayne's Trivia Note #352 (21 April 2016)

These big red havester ants (cf. Pogonomyrmex barbatus) in Brawley, CA were active in 100+ temperatures. They have very painful stings; a close encounter with a swarm of them can be an unforgettable experience.

Wayne's Trivia Note #353 (26 April 2016)

A few novel uses for cockleburs, a widespread hichhiking plant in the sunflower family. For more information: See Wayne's Word Article About Cockleburs  See Ultimate & Most Painful Hitchhikers.

Wayne's Trivia Note #354 (28 April 2016)

This male water bug fertilized the eggs he carries on his back. The female glued them here to keep them protected, moist and well-aerated. This is one of the relatively few cases of paternal responsibility (child care) in male insects.

Wayne's Trivia Note #355 (4 May 2016)

Only one of these snakes has the banding pattern of a deadly Arizona coral snake (a member of the cobra family). Helpful rhyme: "Red bordered by yellow, kills a fellow." If you guessed correctly on the banding pattern of the poisonous species, please do not feel overconfident in identifying all coral snakes and their mimics. The classic rhyme does not apply to all coral snakes south of the border.

Wayne's Trivia Note #356 (9 May 2016)

I soaked my old heartwood chips of Mexican logwood in water overnight and they still yield a bright red dye. During the 1500s & 1600s, the related Central American logwood and South American brazilwood were very valuable dyewoods. This is why the British settled British Honduras (Belize) and the Portuguese settled Brazil. See Wayne's Word article: Trees That Spawned 2 Nations

Disclaimer: I originally thought the wood cutters on Belize flag were logwood cutters; however, some Belize historians say the coat of arms depicts mahogany cutters from forests of Honduran mahogany trees (Swietenia macrophylla) that later became a major industry in Belize.

Wayne's Trivia Note #357 (12 May 2016)

My favorite ant on Owens Peak is a fierce predator--see its midden of dead ants; however, it is fond of Nature Valley Granola! It also shares its nest with a small beetle.

Wayne's Trivia Note #358 (20 May 2016)

This large ant stayed at the same hotel as Diane & Jim on their recent trip to Machu Picchu. It belongs to subfamily Ponerinae, along with trapjaw & sicklejaw ants (Odontotomachus & Leptogenys). See Wayne's Word: Subfamily Ponerinae

Wayne's Trivia Note #359 (22 May 2016)

If your nest is in the Colorado Desert with scorching summer ground temperatures, it is imperative to get underground by mid-day. Unfortunately, this honeypot worker didn't make it. She was fried before my very eyes. There are notable exceptions: Saharan silver ants actually go hunting in extreme heat, when ground surface temperatures exceed 150° F. BTW, the highest recorded ground temperature for Death Valley was 201° F.

Wayne's Trivia Note #360 (25 May 2016)

Water loving Argentine ants once ruled my neighborhood. Now 2 additional species have moved in. Could this be a result of the $500 per day fine for excessive water usage proposed by the Vallecitos Water District!

Wayne's Trivia Note #361 (26 May 2016)

The fig newton is not named after Wayne Newton, Sir Isaac Newton, Olivia Newton-John, Juice Newton, or Cam Newton. It is named after the Massachusetts town of Newton, which was close to the Kennedy Biscuit Works (later called Nabisco). BTW, wasp-pollinated figs have a superior nutty flavor due to the numerous crunchy seeds. Nonpollinated, seedless (parthenocarpic) figs can also be used.

Wayne's Trivia Note #362 (29 May 2016)

My latest discovery at Daley Ranch: A rare wingless wasp that resembles an ant. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestor during the Jurassic period (140 to 168 million years ago), a time when dinosaurs roamed the land. They diversified with the rise of flowering plants.

Wayne's Trivia Note #363 (30 May 2016)

Some elegant & beautiful wildflowers in the dry hills north of Palomar College: Mariposa Lily (Calochortus weedii var. weedii). Photographed Memorial Day (30 May 2016).

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