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Photo#386592
Harvester Ant - Pogonomyrmex californicus - female

Harvester Ant - Pogonomyrmex californicus - Female
Near Snow Creek Rd, between Banning and Palm Springs, Riverside County, California, USA
March 29, 2010
Found roaming in creosote-stabilized sand dune habitat at ~1,160' elevation on the western edge of the Coachella Valley...a desert habitat along the San Andreas fault with the coastal influenced Los Angeles basin to the west, and high mountains directly north and south (Mt. San Gorgonio at ~11,500' and San Jacinto Peak at ~10,840', respectively).

I think these are Pogonomyrmex californicus. From what I've gathered, researching on the internet, this is a fairly variable species. These ants all had black gasters with a pair of red oval spots located dorso-laterally on the anterior third of the gaster (unlike most BG posts under P. californicus, but similiar to this one). Most also seemed to hold the gaster at almost a right angle to the thorax/metasoma, and their heads were distinctively "quadrate" (i.e. square when viewed from above).

Images of this individual: tag all
Harvester Ant - Pogonomyrmex californicus - female Harvester Ant - Pogonomyrmex californicus - female Harvester Ant - Pogonomyrmex californicus - female Harvester Ant - Pogonomyrmex californicus - female Harvester Ant - Pogonomyrmex californicus - female Harvester Ant - Pogonomyrmex californicus - female

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Myrmicinae: Pogonomyrmex
Pogonomyrmex californicus indeed. In general, ones from closer to the coast are slightly smaller and more likely to be all red, while those from more inland (desert) sites are bicolored like yours. Along some routes linking the coast and deserts, one can observe the transition from typical coastal to typical desert form by getting out of the car every few miles and poking around for "Pogos".

 
Thanks for the ID, James
And very interesting to learn of the general gradient in size & color forms as one moves inland from the coast. That clarifies things in a nice, intelligible way...and I wouldn't have had any idea of that without your comments! :-)

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