Indio Fire Ant Rafts Nov 2018
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Imported Fire Ant Rafts (Solenopsis invicta) In Indio
Photographed by W.P. Armstrong During Week of November 12-16, 2018
The purpose of this 2018 road trip was to see if the Indio populations of South American fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) form interconnected rafts when their nest is flooded, like populations in the southeastern United States. I placed a pitfall trap directly into their nest to collect a mass of ants. Then I dumped the ants into a large white bowl filled with water. The ants quickly congregated into a floating mat on the water surface. When I discovered how stable the mat was, I decided to try photographing it in the sink of my motel room with better lighting. All ants were returned to their original nests and I received very few stings in this maneuver.
Imported Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta) In Parks & Lawns Of Indio

I can now testify that imported fire ants are definitely in irrigated parks & lawns in Indio, CA. Beware of dirt mounds in the grass, they may not be gophers!

Major and minor workers of the imported South American fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) from Mira Mesa in San Diego County, California. The head and thorax are a little darker than the native southern fire ant (S. xyloni). There are other technical differences beyond the scope of this website.

Raft Building Fire Ants In Indio November 2018

My first attempt to place imported South American fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) in a bowl of water. Major and minor workers began to assemble into an interconnected mat (raft).

Another fire ant raft in the sink of my motel room. It was fairly easy to maneuver and placed the mat into a sealed container of water because they stayed connected like a delicate lace doily.

I only received a few stings while transferring these fire ants from their nest to the bowl of water in my room, and back to their original nest! This procedure is not recommended because these stinging ants have multiple queens and can be very invasive if the raft breaks up. They should never be flushed down the drain. In addition, their sting is a little painful.

Close-up views of fire ant raft in bowl placed in my bathroom sink. The larger ants are major workers. I was very careful to remove the entire raft without getting stung.

  More Images Of Imported South American Fire Ants In San Diego County  

A Few Train Images Near The Fire Ants Along Indio Blvd.

Numerous very long freight trains with 120 cars or more pass through Indio along Indio Blvd. This train had 7 large engines, 5 in front and 2 at the rear. With a conservative estimate of 5,000 horsepower per engine (large engines may have 6,000 hp), this train generates at least 35,000 hp. With engines that weigh well over 100 tons each and freight cars with load capacities of over 100 tons, this train has a potential total weight of almost 11,000 tons. I doubt if 35,000 horses could pull this load up the Banning grade! Note: The GE AC6000CW 6 axle locomotive that resembles the engines in some of my images generates 6,000 hp and weighs about 200 tons!

120 double stack cars as far as the eye can see! This is equivalent to 240 tractor trailer loads. It is amazing how much power it takes to pull this load up the Banning grade from Indio. This train is more that a mile long and would take about a mile to stop at 55 mph on flat land. Of course, the stopping distance depends on the load.

Nearby Ant Species Along Indio Blvd

Honeypot ants (Myrmecocystus) are very fond of sweets, including Werther's Original

Pyramid ants (Dorymyrmex--probably D. bicolor). These ants are bicolored like the above Myrmecocystus except they are much smaller and pay no attention to Werther's Original. The head and thorax of some workers is orange.

Ants on sidewalk along Indio Boulevard: A: California harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex californicus). B. Southern Fire ant (Solenopsis xyloni). C. Long-horned crazy ant (Paratrechina longicornis). D. Rover ant (Brachymyrmex patagonius). The long-horned crazy ant is an interesting species introduced from tropical Asia. In the 1990s this species invaded the Biosphere 2 ecosystem project in Oracle, Arizona. In addition to these 4 species, I also found nests of minute big-headed ants (Pheidole) in an open field.

  More Images Of Pheidole In The Coachella Valley Area  

Desert shaggymane (Podaxis pistillaris) appears after flash floods in desert areas.