Wayne's Trivia Notes #21
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Wayne's Trivia Note #493 (20 February 2018)

My rescued tarantula is doing fine; however, he spends a lot of time next to his heating pad. I guess my house is too cold for him. He also waits inside a toilet paper tube to be fed live superworms. I originally planned on letting him go when he was healthy, but now I'm not sure he could survive in the wild! There are also many tarantula hawk wasps on Owens Peak. By the way, I created my entire website with a text-based HTML editor called Arachnophilia.

Wayne's Trivia Note #494 (21 February 2018)

This large tarantula hawk wasp (Pepsis) with red antennae was not far from where I rescued my badly dehydrated baby tarantula. Apparently only female wasps hunt tarantulas; however, I am not certain of this one's sex. Males don't sting, but I am not about to test this wasp because the sting is reportedly excruciating! As I followed it on Owens Peak it certainly appeared to be hunting under rocks and in burrows.

Wayne's Trivia Note #495 (25 February 2018)

Wayne's Word Botany Update: Ever wonder what are the strings of tissue when you peel a banana? Identification Of Major Fruit Types and Banana Family (Musaceae).

Wayne's Trivia Note #496 (2 March 2018)

My Brodiaea Garden is now completely screened against gophers, rabbits, ground squirrels & chipmunks. It contains native brodiaeas from Kern & Monterey Counties to the Mexican border. The flower image is from a field in San Marcos and may represent an undescribed taxon. Unfortunately, the field now has a large FOR SALE sign. More About Brodiaea Species In Garden

Wayne's Trivia Note #497 (6 March 2018)

For the past 5 years I have searched for interesting & unusual ants. To my surprise I found 3 of the tiniest & most bizarre tropical species in the bridle path in front of my home in Twin Oaks Valley, San Marcos. Their strange, triangular heads were in the midden (graveyard) of another ant species. They are the size of sand grains and difficult to spot without magnification.

Wayne's Trivia Note #498 (12 March 2018)

This massive Aleppo pine in Escondido's Oak Hill Memorial Park is a favorite place for storing acorns. The acorn woodpecker is genetically programmed to stuff acorns into the bark of trees. This acorn "granary tree" provides a food source during the winter months. Some people believe this remarkable behavior also has a teleological explanation. See Granaries Of Acorn Woodpeckers.

Wayne's Trivia Note #499 (17 March 2018)

Just found Arizona's smallest ant species in my backyard (Twin Oaks Valley). It is the size of minute springtails (insect order Collembola) & microscopic mites. This tiny ant species is native to Argentina & Paraguay. It is spreading into the United States. See Ants Of Twin Oaks Valley.

Wayne's Trivia Note #500 (18 March 2018)

Feeding time at Wayne's Word: Three naturalized species representing 3 subfamilies of tropical ants sipping honey on a small section of flagstone in my backyard. This makes a grand total of 11 ant species living in my yard. It is amazing what you can find crawling around with a magnifying glass! See Ant Species In My Yard!.

Wayne's Trivia Note #501 (22 March 2018)

Mudmidgets: California's most bizarre flowering plants roughly the size of your little finger nail. Native to marshlands of central California, they are currently (22 March 2018) being dispersed downstream by flood waters. They once occurred in the Santa Ana River of southern California, but haven't been seen in decades. More Information.

Wayne's Trivia Note #502 (1 April 2018)

My tarantula from Owens Peak has poor vision. Compare the tiny eyes on the top of his carapace with my jumping spider (Salticid) who has keen depth perception for deadly-accurate pouncing on prey!

Wayne's Trivia Note #503 (8 April 2018)

In my humble opinion, my Ancestry DNA results were more interesting than my Nat Geo results because they showed more detail on recent migratory paths from the UK & western Europe into the United States. See Migratory Routes Of Ancestors Of W.P. Armstrong During 1800s. The fact that I had 3 paternal matches with Charles Darwin in Nat Geo is probably not that noteworthy. I also had one match with Napoleon! BTW, how my DNA was matched with Darwin: Chris Darwin, great, great grandson of Charles, who lives in the Blue Mtns of Australia, inherited much of Charles Darwin's paternal DNA on his Y-chromosome. Of course, the accuracy of this paternal DNA depends on a lineage of fathers who truly inherited their Y-DNA from Charles. I.e. no extramarital contamination!

Wayne's Trivia Note #504 (10 April 2018)

An unusual event in the sky over Joshua Tree National Park on Tuesday 3 April 2018. It was described by onlookers as a "hole in our atmosphere" or "a large eye" peering down at us!

Wayne's Trivia Note #505 (17 April 2018)

Tricked By Sense Receptors: When the alkaloid capsaicin from chili peppers binds with sense receptors in your tongue, the brain interprets this signal as hot, even though the chile pepper temperature is not physically hot. You can also get "burned" again when capsaicin reaches the rectum. Recent medical literature reveals other problems from overindulging on superhot chili peppers. BTW, one of my former biology students at Palomar in now a molecular biologist and director of the Chili Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University! More About Chile Peppers

Wayne's Trivia Note #506 (19 April 2018)

I hate to disappoint anyone who believes Thor Heyerdahl's hypothesis that South American sweet potatoes were carried across the Pacific to Polynesia by Peruvian Indians. He tested his hypothesis in 1947 by sailing a balsa wood raft, the Kon-Tiki, fashioned after the reed rafts of the Oru Indians living on Lake Titicaca. Current Biology (2018) offers convincing DNA evidence that seeds of the sweet potato floated across the Pacific Ocean on sea currents more than a 100,000 years ago--ruling out human transport. Other Ipomoea species, such as I. pes-caprae, have excellent drift seeds (see R in following image). In fact, I have found this species on beaches of the Galapagos Islands. According to S.L. Kochhar (Economic Botany: A Comprehensive Study 5th Edition, 2016): The seeds of sweet potato, "which have an almost impervious seed coat, germinate after immersion in seawater." See Current Biology

Drift seeds & fruits collected at Drunk Bay on windward side of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Legend: A. Mango (Mangifera indica), B. beach bean (Canavallia maritima), C. coin plant (probably Dalbergia monetaria), D. hog plum (Spondias mombin), E. West Indian locust (Hymenaea courbaril), F. tropical almond (Terminalia catappa), G. tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum), H. manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella), I. seaside hibiscus (Thespesia populnea), J. nothing nut (Cassine xylocarpa), K. sugar apple (Annona squamosa), L. sandbox tree (Hura crepitans), M. sea coconut (Manicaria saccifera), N. mammee apple (Mammea americana), O. oak acorn (Quercus sp.), P. grenade pod (Sacoglottis amazonica), Q. Asian swamp lily (probably Crinum asiaticum), R. beach morning-glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae), S. sea heart (Entada gigas), T. pod in the Sterculiaceae (possibly Sterculia sp.), U. red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), V. sea bean (Mucuna urens), W. gray nickernut (Caesalpinia bonduc), X. yellow nickernut (probably Caesalpinia ciliata or C. major), Y. dog almond (Andira inermis), Z. coconut endocarp (Cocos nucifera), AA. calabash (Crescentia cujete), and AB. box fruit (Barringtonia asiatica).

Wayne's Trivia Note #507 (30 April 2018)

Ornamental sweet potatoes with attractive purple foliage are planted in flower beds at Palomar College. I normally don't eat plants on campus, but I tried a microwaved storage root of one and it wasn't too bad! Compared with red sweet potatoes called "yams," it had a white interior (very little beta carotene) and lower water content (texture) similar to white sweet potatoes in the supermarket.

Wayne's Trivia Note #508 (6 May 2018)

In my search through ant graveyards (middens) in front of my home I keep finding these minute heads of an unknown ant. I am attempting to match other body parts to the heads in order to ID the ant at least to genus. I don't think my neighbors understand my passion for lilliputian forensics!