● Horse Ridge area, SE of Bend [Deschutes Co], OR USA [el. 1310 m / 4297 ft] view location in Google Maps »
● 7/20/09 7:42AM sunny, air temp: 12°C / 54°F
At two separate locations in Oregon, we have observed Pogonomyrmex salinus workers transporting (or working on in some way) Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) 'berries' . This ant was in the process of cutting away the outer covering of one, and a seed can be seen inside (a variety of haphazard cutting techniques were employed). This worker apparently lost interest, and walked away shortly after this image was captured. [scroll down for additional notes/references]
Juniper 'berries' are really highly modified seed cones, with fused, fleshy scales. We saw these objects on the ground in every state of ripeness and decomposition (at this location and one another in central Oregon). The color ranged from almost black to bright orange - sometimes with a white powdery coating, as in this image. The differences in color and texture presumably are a function of how long the berries had been lying on the ground. The ants did not seem to have a preference, and were seen retrieving ones that were in some cases, highly decomposed. We observed 2 of these objects actually being taken into a nest.
This is the only Pogo we have seen actually cutting open a Juniper berry, the others were being transported whole.
- Pogolumina - Pogonomyrmex Harvester Ants of North America
Images of Pogonomyrmex salinus - at various locations in Nevada, Oregon, and Washington states, USA. Scroll down PAST BOTTOM OF PAGE for complete image description, and CLICK large image to make it even LARGER...
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