Bugs and Caterpillars at the River Bend Park

I slept in a little bit this morning and didn’t get up until about 7:30.  I got the dog in the car and we headed out for our walk.  First, though I had to run a few short errands: grocery store, put gas in the car, go to the bank… So we didn’t get to the American River Bend Park until a little after 8:30 am.  I don’t usually like to get there that “late” because by then the place is starting to fill up with humans and the critters make themselves scarce.  The weather was nice, though: in the 50’s while we were walking with a slight breeze and lots of sunshine.

We saw all the usual suspects like wild turkeys, deer, Acorn Woodpeckers, Towhees, Brown Creepers, Starlings, Snake Flies, click beetles, spiders … I was supposed to do a butterfly crawl for Tuleyome today, but that got  cancelled… and it was just as well.  Because there was so little rain in the early part of the year, the forest is about three weeks behind where it should be as far as plant and bug life goes.  The Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars are just now starting to hatch and mature.  It’ll be another few weeks before they’re fully mature and start to build their chrysalises. There were fewer butterflies this season, too, and I only came across a few exhausted stragglers on our walk. One neat thing, though, was the discovery of quite a few of what I think were Red Admiral butterfly caterpillars (Vanessa atalanta) in the stinging nettles.  One even got angry at my intrusion and reared up at me.  It’s hard to get proper photos of those guys because the stinging nettled they love to eat really do sting!  They have microscopic hairs on them that inject histamine into your skin leaving you will this bad “burning” stinging sensation.  It doesn’t last long, but it sure hurts!  (Of course, if this stupid human wouldn’t put her hand into the nettles she wouldn’t get stung…  but I really wanted th photograph!  Hah!)  I also came across a mating pair of Fire-Necked Batyle Beetles (Batyle ignicollis) which are a subspecies of long-horned beetle, and a mating pair of Crane Flies… so I considered it a good time.  The dog and I walked for about 2 ½ hours and then headed back home.

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