2011 Texas and Arizona summer collecting experience


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Great trip, story and photos! Thanks for sharing.

I expected to see armadillos in Texas when I was there last October but never found any! And I looked... (My avatar is a photo of me petting an armadillo when I was in Florida last January. Most of them ran away, but that one would push at our shoes when we got in its way.)

Those ants flying were bizarre. I was in Arizona for three weeks in April but couldn't find any mantids. I guess it was the wrong time of year or else they were too small. I hardly found any insects except for some grasshoppers (not as colorful as the ones you found). I did almost step on a rattlesnake...twice...when I was photographing Saguaro cactus.
Thanks. I didn't expect any ant to perform nuptial flight this late into the season so it was a bonus to witness the swarm. The earliest i have ever been in Tucson area was May, and all the mantids were in their early stages. So April was too early, but I didn't see any snake this time.
WOAH! These are some good finds. Best yet. D. granti? JEALOUSY!
Yes it was a nice pair of Dynastes granti. Again never thought they come out this late in the season.I hope to post more pics when time permit.

I wonder if the mantises living in the area know of your yearly visits to Arizona and carve writings in the soil of the return of the great yen for future generations and wait for u and hope to be seen by u :p

I would do that if I were a mantis :)

Anyways do the mantises u catch from the wild seem to need a period of time to transition to captive life? just curious :)

Keep posting pics!!!

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I wonder if the mantises living in the area know of your yearly visits to Arizona and carve writings in the soil of the return of the great yen for future generations and wait for u and hope to be seen by u :p

I would do that if I were a mantis :)

Anyways do the mantises u catch from the wild seem to need a period of time to transition to captive life? just curious :)

Keep posting pics!!!
I would run away and hide if i am a mantis :p Some skittish WC mantids do take a few days to settle down in captivity, especially nymphs.

A few more insects spotted during that night.




The next day I followed Chris to look for more turtle ants.


but found only dead turtle ant queen. Probably due to drought.


I left Chris alone in Tucson Mountain Park and went to the International Wildlife Museum for a break


However, the first two animals i saw was native to the area. Huge AZ hairy desert scorp



Another native.....






This is probably a hunter's dream room




Some visitors return the favor and take pic for me.



Here is another look of the museum on my way out


The pics only showed the tip of iceburg for this museum. There is also a theater inside. A taxidermist could spend a whole day there easily. Unfortunately the last pic in this thread become the last photograph for me in Arizona as my spare battery ran dry, and i forgot to bring the converter to the charger bummer...... but there are more pics coming up when we return to Texas.

I will end this thread with some pics from collecting in Texas, mostly whle looking for ants.

This is the particular species Chris looking for, Pseudomyrmex gracilis.


Any sign of an entry hole on hollow twig presented a chance to find a colony for this species


So with aspirator and pocket knife, Chris get to work



and the queen ant came out of the twig finally



Cutting up the hollow twigs, we sometimes saw some other insects, like pseudoscorpian


Another type of arboreal Componotus sp.


Beetle larvae


and other insects such as arboreal wasps, spiders, weevil beetles, etc

Peeling off bark, we also found some long horn beetle


termites too


termites appear to be good food for some ants, including P. gracilis, so Chris collected some


We also came across another arboreal ant species such as this Crematogaster sp. here is the queen



The Crematogaster worker ants have stinger but seldom use it. It has a heart shape abdomen and raised up the tip of the abdomen when being threatened.


The tip of the abdomen has a drop of venom


Another commonly seen twig ant is the smaller Pseudomyrmex pallidus. frequently seen inbreeding within the same colony. Here are winged male and female


and pairing up soon


Although i was not stung by any of the collected ant, it was the unwanted ant - fire ant - that got me....


To find arboreal ant species, bushes full of dried up twig is always a good place to go for


We were also lucky enough to witnessed some harvester male (lighter color) ready for nuptial flight


We saw snakes through out the entire trip, but luckily all were harmless


Instead, it was the annoying mosquitoes that got us


Although most of the collecting places were dry, there is always good chance of finding grass mantis


One of my favorite place for Brunneria borealis this year been really dry, we end up finding another type of elongated twig ant, Pseudomyrmex seminoles.


BUt the drought also made it easier to narrow down the smaller green patch and locate the stick mantis


zooming in


Another adult B. borealis spotted


It has been a blessing for us to find any insect at all when Texas had the worst drought and heat in the record. Arizona was facing the same problem but the AZ native insects appear to have adapted to the dry environment so it wasn't as badly affected as I expected. Thanks for following this thread.

Good thread Yen, I really enjoyed all of the pics and captions. Thanks for taking the time to show us a zoomed in shot and the general area too! If you published a magazine, I'd subscribe.

Thank you for such a well documented excursion, I think I speak for all of us when I say that this is a great thread.

As usual, not every pairing ants survived in the wild. It is a dog eat dog world out there and some other species of ants (Aphaenogaster sp) seemed to anticipated this 'event' and starting to attack the mating pair on the ground.


Winged ants that show up late have no chance to fly. Mauled by swarm of ants from other species.


I let Chris busy collecting the queens and started to look for more mantis. Soon I found an adult female ground mantis.


There were plenty of Yersiniops around the area too.



Soon I developed the 'eye' for this species and collected plenty of them. In less than one hour i found about 9 adult females and dozen of males. Here is another Yersiniops if you can find it ;)


To my surprise I also found a white velvet ant!!! What a contrast to the orange/red velvet ants i usually found in Texas.



Well there was a reason to celebrate so I had a good meal that day.



Lot more pics to post on that day....... stay tune!
So this is Yen And Chris cool Get see how you guys look ..

10 years late, but I'm planning a trip down to Madera and I was wondering if one can still expect to find unicorn mantises this late in the summer? Also, having trouble finding the Yersiniops mantis in that last picture haha


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