Arizonensis --> Sonoran Desert Naturalist --> Urban Habitats --> Backyard Naturalist --> November
Nov 24 (2002): Not long after sunrise I was poking around my patch of habitat and noticed several Beartrap Ants (Odontomachus) out foraging. This seemed unusual because the temperature was only 11° C. Unable to internally regulate body temperature, most insects cannot function when it is cold or at least can move only slowly. And indeed the ants were moving along very slowly and I wondered how they could manage prey capture. It seems these ants overcome not being able to move quickly with the spring-trap mechanism of their mandibles. They hunt with mandibles held agape and when they encounter prey they snap shut and won't let go. Their prey would also be a cold-stiffened and would not have much power for escaping. Thus these ants can hunt and take prey while expending energy at a very slow pace.
Nov 20 (2002): The Western Soapberry Tree has dropped most of it's golden yellow leaves. Deciduous trees in metropolitan Phoenix landscapes are in the minority; most of the trees and shrubs planted are evergreen. Other commonly planted deciduous trees are ash, mulberry, and pecan.
Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009