Galls, Galls, and Galls, 08-18-19

I headed out to William Pond Park on the American River around 6:00 am to check out my go-to oak tree and look for galls.  I like that one particular Valley Oak because it seems to have a wide variety of galls on it every summer.  I think the relatively mild summer this year has delayed when a lot of the wasps from making up and laying their eggs on the tree, but I was still able to find quite a few different species: Red Cone, Convoluted, Yellow Wig, Jumping Galls, Disk Galls, Oak Apples, Spiny Turbans, Flat-Topped Honeydew Galls, Round Galls (yeah, that’s really their name), Live Oak galls (1st generation), Pumpkin Galls, Fuzzy Galls, Club Galls… I was pleased with the variety.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

 There were also more Valley Oaks, some Interior Live Oaks, and what I think were Coast Live Oaks (based on their leaves) in the park that had galls on them.  On one of the Coast Live Oaks, I found a gall that didn’t look at all familiar to me.  I tried looking it up when I got home but couldn’t see a photographic reference for it.  I thought it might be a form of Two-Horned gall (without any horns) but it just doesn’t look or feel like that, really. So, I’ll need to do more research on it. 

I also found some gall-affected acorns: black and oozy.  I took one o them home to open it up and try to see what might be inside of it, but my photographic equipment isn’t really good enough to see much.  Still, I think the “exercise” of looking is a good thing.  It trains my eye to see more tiny details.

The Flat-Topped Honeydew Galls weren’t very big yet, but they were already exuding so much honeydew that they made parts of the branches and leaves very sticky.  So sticky, in fact, that I had to take a break and walk down to the river to wash my hands.

Gall of the Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis, oozing honeydew

Along the edge of the river there were a lot of stupid people with their unleashed dogs, letting the dogs run into the water… which is running really cold and fast right now.  They’re lucky none of the dogs were swept away.

Along the paved bike trails there were quite a few people on those Elliptical Stepper Scooter Bike thingies. They’re like big scooters but instead of propelling them with your feet, you stand on the steps and pump them.  You get the same leg action you’d get with a bike, but you’re standing up instead of sitting down.  They’re really kind of cool-looking, but to get a good one you have to spend between $800 and $1200.  Sheesh!

 I also found lots of Green Lacewing eggs and several Assassin Bug egg cases on the go-to tree, including some eggs cases that had tiny newly hatched nymphs next to them. The nymphs were so pale and so small—like “air bugs” — it was hard to see them…until they scrambled up on my fingers. Luckily, I’ve never been bitten by an Assassin Bug, and the babies pretty much just left me alone after I returned them to their leaf.

Egg case and nymphs of an Assassin Bug, Zelus luridus

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed home. 

SPECIES LIST:

1. Assassin Bug, Zelus luridus
2. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
3. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
4. Club Gall Wasp, Xanthoteras clavuloides
5. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
6. Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea
7. Convoluted Gall Wasp, Andricus confertus
8. Disc Gall Wasp, Andricus parmula
9. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
10. Fuzzy Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis washingtonensis
11. Giant Fennel, Ferula communis
12. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
13. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
14. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
15. Jumping Oak Galls, Neuroterus saltatorius
16. Live Oak Gall Wasp, 1st Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis
17. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
18. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
19. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
20. Round Gall Wasp, Besbicus conspicuous
21. Silver Wattle, Acacia dealbata
22. Spiny Turban Gall Wasp, Antron douglasii
23. Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima
24. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
25. Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum
26. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Andricus fullawayi
27. Ribbed Cocoon-Maker Moth, Bucculatrix albertiella

A 3-hour walk

This and That, 08-13-19

Around 6:00 am I went over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my regular volunteer trail-walking gig.  It was 57° at the preserve when I got there, but before I left it was already up to 77° and heading to a high of 100°.  Pleh!

I didn’t see a whole lot today, but I did get to see several different kinds of galls, a Turkey Vulture posing in a tree and a small herd of deer.  One of the fawns was out, but he was in the high grass laying down near his mom, so getting photos of him was tough.  I also saw a young Red-Shouldered Hawk getting harassed by Mockingbirds again, and I came across some insects which I think were a tiny species of Crane Flies.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Along the way, I got to do my “naturalist” thing for a lady named “Karen” who comes to the preserve on Tuesdays, too.  I had stopped by a Live Oak tree when she came by and she asked what I was looking at.  I showed her a Two-Horned gall and explained what it was, then found a Pumpkin gall and a Kernel gall on the same tree.  She said, “Say all of that again so I can record you on my phone.”  So, I went through the whole spiel about the cynipid wasps, how they lay eggs on the leaves of the oak trees and how the tree forms the galls, and how each gall is species-specific.  She was very appreciative.  I hope the video turned out so she can share it with her friends. 

I stopped to look at the feral bee colony and was a little worried when I didn’t see a lot of activity around the tree where the hive was.  There were only a few bees around the entrance this time.  I usually see dozens.  I’ll have to check out the tree again next time I’m there. I hope nothing happened to their queen…

There were hardly any bees at the “bee tree” today…

As I was heading out of the preserve, I noticed that the gardeners were ripping up the showy milkweed that was infested with black mold… which is the majority of the plants. It’s been my observation that the Monarchs don’t care if the milkweed plants are moldy… and most of the plants that the gardeners were ripping out today were plants where I historically found Monarch caterpillars in the past.  I guess the gardeners know what they’re doing but I was kind of disappointed to see the plants being destroyed right before the late-summer Monarchs are due to arrive.

I walked for three hours and then headed home.

Screen shot from My Tracks app.

SPECIES LIST:

1. American Yellow Sac Spider, Cheiracanthium inclusum

2. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
3. Asian Lady Beetle, Harlequin Labybug, Harmonia axyridis
4. Ball-tipped Gall Wasp, Xanthoteras teres
5. Bay Laurel, Laurus nobilis
6. Black Walnut Tree, Juglans nigra
7. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
8. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
9. Boxelder Bug, Boisea trivittata (nymph)
10. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
11. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
12. Canada Goldenrod, Solidago canadensis
13. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
14. Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea (nymph, lion)
15. Convoluted Gall Wasp, Andricus confertus
16. Cranefly, Erioptera sp. (maybe Erioptera septemtrionis)
17. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
18. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
19. Feral Honeybees, Apis mellifera
20. Giant Sunflower, Helianthus giganteus
21. House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
22. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
23. Kernel Flower Gall Wasp, Callirhytis serricornis
24. Lace Lichen, Ramalina menziesii
25. Leaf Gall Wasp, Unidentified
26. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
27. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
28. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
29. Peregrine Falcon, Wek-Wek, Falco peregrinus
30. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
31. Raccoon, Procyon lotor (tracks)
32. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
33. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
34. Ribbed Cocoon-Maker Moth, Bucculatrix albertiella
35. Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas
36. Tall Buckwheat, Eriogonum elatum var. elatum
37. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
38. Twice-Stabbed Ladybeetle, Chilocorus stigma
39. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus dubiosus
40. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
41. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
42. Woodland Skipper, Ochlodes sylvanoides
43. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Andricus fullawayi

Lots of Loti, 08-12-19

This morning, I headed over to the WPA Rock Garden at William Land Park.  It was 63° when I got there, and then got up to about 95° by the late afternoon. 

All the while I was at the garden, the giant sprinklers I the front portion of it were on, soaking everything, so I wasn’t able to get into parts of the garden at all, and had to deal with water running through all of the pathways. 

For the first hour or so I was out there, I was joined by Kristie Kraemer, one of my naturalist class graduates. She’s readying for retirement and is taking a nature journaling class on the side.  She’s gotten into watercolors as part of her journaling class and is focusing on “green” right now.  I totally get that. Focusing on one facet of anything can be very instructive – and relaxing.  It uses a different part of your brain…  ((I suck at watercolors, myself, so I’m always in awe of people who use them.))

At the park, I was hoping to find insects and their eggs, and maybe see the family of Great Horned Owls again, but I kind of struck out on those…  Although, I DID see several praying mantises, a pair of striped beetles, and some kind of tiny weevil.

Oh, and I got some photos of a garden snail pooping.  You wouldn’t think that was such a big deal, but… According to Robert Cameron, Evolutionary Biologist and Malacologist, “…The process is a bit bizarre by our standards, because the anus opens into the mantle cavity, which also houses the lung! So, the poop itself is shed through the breathing pore. It is usually a string of green or brown matter depending on what the snail has been eating. If you feed it nothing but carrot, the poop will be orange. They can poop while resting, because the breathing pore faces outwards in the mouth of the shell when they are withdrawn…” 

So, I guess they have to hold their breath while they poop. And this guy could poop upside down! Hah!

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I walked through the garden, around the middle pond, and then headed over to the large pond and walked around that, too.  So, the whole walk was about 3 hours’ worth.

A 3-hour walk… 2.83 kilometers

In the middle pond, there were the usual suspects: ducks, geese, crows… And there was also a Green Heron fishing in the middle of pond by standing on one of the broad leaves of the lotus plants that are over-growing in the pond.  I got a few nice shots of him.

At the larger pond, the Chinese Geese were out, and I saw a crayfish and a turtle, but they ducked out of sight before I could get any good photos of them.  Just as I was leaving, I saw a small flock of Western Bluebirds chasing each other around, and also hear a Nuttall’s Woodpecker.  I followed his noise and found him in a tree across the street from where my car was parked.  I was able to get some pictures – in between the cars going back and forth on the street.

After the walk, I went home, had some lunch and pretty much relaxed for the rest of the day.

SPECIES LIST:

1. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
2. Apple Mint, Mentha suaveolens
3. Assassin Bug, Zelus luridus (nymph)
4. Autumn Sage, Salvia greggii
5. Beaver Tail Cactus, Prickly Pear, Opuntia basilaris
6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
7. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
8. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
9. Butterfly Bush, Buddleja davidii
10. California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum
11. California Sycamore, Platanus racemose
12. Canada Goldenrod, Solidago canadensis
13. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
14. Cardoon, Artichoke Thistle, Cynara cardunculus
15. Cayuga Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Cayuga
16. Chinese Goose, Anser cygnoides
17. Chinese Praying Mantis, Tenodera sinensis
18. Common Hibiscus, Hibiscus syriacus
19. Common Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia
20. Crepe Myrtle, Arapaho Crepe Myrtle (dark pink), Lagerstroemia (indica × fauriei × limii)
21. Crested Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Crested
22. Dianella, Dianella ensifolia
23. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
24. Familiar Bluet Damselfly, Enallagma civile
25. Garden Snail, Cornu aspersum
26. Gingko, Maidenhair Tree, Ginkgo biloba
27. Globe Thistle, Blue Globe Thistle, Echinops bannaticus
28. Green Heron, Butorides virescens
29. Italian Cypress, Cupressus sempervirens
30. Jerusalem Sage, Phlomis fruticose
31. Jimson Weed, Datura stramonium
32. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
33. Manzanita, Arctostaphylos sp.
34. Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria
35. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
36. Naked Lady Lily, Amaryllis Belladonna
37. Nightshade, Blue Witch Nightshade, Solanum umbelliferum
38. Northern Catalpa, Indian Bean Tree, Catalpa speciosa
39. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
40. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
41. Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marmorata
42. Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin
43. Purpletop Vervain, Verbena bonariensis
44. Red Amaranth, Amaranthus cruentus
45. Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora
46. Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera
47. Smoke Tree, Smokebush, Cotinus coggygria
48. Striped Cucumber Beetle, Acalymma sp.
49. Swedish Blue Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Swedish Blue
50. Three-lined Potato Beetle, Lema daturaphila
51. Trashline Orb Weaver Spider, Cyclosa conica
52. Tule Bluet, Enallagma carunculatum (female)
53. Wand Mullein, Verbascum virgatum
54. Weeping Cypress, Cupressus cashmeriana
55. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
56. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
57. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa
58. Wooly Mullein, Great Mullein, Verbascum thapsus

 

LEaf-Footed Bug Nymphs, 08-11-19

I went out to fill the bird feeder this morning and saw a small aggregate of what I thought at first were Harvestmen (those spiders that aren’t really spiders). As I got closer I realized it was actually an aggregate of the nymphs of a Leaf-Footed Bug, Leptoglossus phyllopus.  I also found the bug’s eggs on the side of the house… and on some of them, I could see the little “doors” on the front of them left open after the nymphs emerged.  They form aggregates to help one another keep warm and regulate their body temperature.

You can see the whole album here: https://www.flickr.com/…/mkhnatura…/albums/72157710241916126 which includes a video of the critters, photos of the eggs, and some of the stuff in the yard. The video isn’t that great because I did it with my cell phone, but you’ll get the gist of it.

Also saw this Spotted Orb Weaver Spider, Neoscona crucifera , on the lavender plant. I love the way she’s keeping one foot on that strand of silk to “feel” for visitors.

Mostly Birds and Squirrels Today, 08-10-19

I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk.  It was a gorgeous 62° when I got there around 6:30 am and was up to 77° by the time I left. 

I saw mostly birds and squirrels today. Not too many deer and only one fawn at a distance. But the weather was so lovely, I didn’t mind.  I’m seeing a lot of fledglings right now, and a lot of adult birds in the middle of massive molts, so everyone looks “messy” … sort of like humans in the summer. Everybody’s on vacation and scruffy looking. Hah! 

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos

I saw Acorn Woodpeckers, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, Black Phoebes, several California Scrub Jays, a Purple Finch and others.  But the best photos I got were of some young Red-Shouldered Hawks.  One flew down into a tree right next to the nature center, and another flew into a tree by the frog pond.  Got LOTS of photos of them.

I also came across a lot of galls and more of those tiny ridged structured Roxanne and I have been seeing all over the place. Someone on iNaturalist said the structures were some kind of scale bug, but I dismissed that suggestion because it didn’t have any of the characteristics of any scale bugs I’ve ever seen. Anyway, I’ve been looking and looking for more clues over the past several months and… finally found them! They are the cocoons of the Ribbed Cocoon-Maker Moth, Bucculatrix albertiella. The cocoons are white when they’re new and turn dirty as they age. They have very distinctive ridges and are surrounded by a “fence” of fine white hairs. I took a couple of samples and will look at them under a microscope (as soon as it’s delivered).

Cocoon of the Ribbed Cocoon-Maker Moth, Bucculatrix albertiella

I also found and was able to identify damage done by the Leaf Blotch Miner Moth (possibly Acrocercops affinis) on the leaf of an Interior Live Oak.  The moth’s larvae “mine” tunnels through the surface layers of the leaves, and where a lot of the corridors come together, they form large “epidermal blotches” that look like papery caverns on the leaves. 

Damage done by the Leaf Blotch Miner Moth (possibly Acrocercops affinis) on the leaf of an Interior Live Oak

There were a lot of Praying Mantis nymphs among the Showy Milkweed by the nature center. Although they’re still young, they’ve all got those killer spines on their front legs. I got my finger caught by those spines on an adult mantis and I can tell you, it HURTS. They can exert enough pressure to puncture your skin and draw blood… But some cools facts about these critters:

Praying mantis nymph

o They can swivel that head 180 degrees.
o Along with those two big compound eyes, they have three simple eyes located in between the larger ones on the top of the head.
o This species has a single ear located on the belly… and they can detect ultrasonic sounds.

Nature is so cool!

Among the squirrels I saw today included the California Ground Squirrel, Western Gray Squirrel and Eastern Fox Squirrel. Most of them were chewing on black walnuts.

I walked for four hours today.

4 hours and 8 minutes; 3.19 km

Species List:

1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
2. American Yellow Sac Spider, Cheiracanthium inclusum
3. Ash Leaf Curl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifolii
4. Asian Lady Beetle, Harlequin Labybug, Harmonia axyridis
5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
6. Black Walnut Erineum Mite galls, Eriophyes erinea
7. Black Walnut Tree, Juglans nigra
8. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
9. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
10. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
11. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
12. California Praying Mantis, Stagmomantis californica
13. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
14. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
15. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
16. Canada Goldenrod, Solidago canadensis
17. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
18. Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea
19. Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus
20. Crown Whitefly, Aleuroplatus coronata
22. Crystalline Gall Wasp, Andricus crystallinus
23. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
24. Doveweed, Turkey Mullein, Croton setigerus
25. Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
26. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
27. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
28. Feral Honeybees, Apis mellifera
29. Giant Mullein, Verbascum thapsus
30. Giant Sunflower, Helianthus giganteus
31. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
32. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus
33. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
34. Kernel Flower Gall Wasp, Callirhytis serricornis
35. Leaf Blotch Miner Moth, Acrocercops affinis
36. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
37. Live Oak Gall Wasp, 2nd Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis
38. Naked Lady Lily, Amaryllis Belladonna
39. Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Sophia, Aegolius acadicus
40. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
41. Oak Treehopper, Platycotis vittata (exuvia)
42. Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
43. Pacific Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
44. Pink Grass, Windmill Pink, Petrorhagia dubia
45. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
46. Purple Finch, Haemorhous purpureus
47. Raccoon, Procyon lotor (tracks)
48. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
49. Red Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
50. Red-Shouldered Stink Bug, Thyanta custator
51. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
52. Rusty Tussock Moth, Orgyia antiqua (cocoons)
53. Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas
54. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
55. Spiny Turban Gall Wasp, Antron douglasii
56. Steel Blue Cricket Hunter Wasp, Chlorion aerarium
57. Trashline Orb Weaver Spider, Cyclosa conica
58. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
59. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus dubiosus
60. Urchin Gall Wasp, Antron quercusechinus
61. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
62. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
63. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
64. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
65. Yellow Starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis

Summer 2019, CalNat Class #10, Graduation, 08-09-19

We had 10 more Certified California Naturalists graduate today! Congratulations to everyone.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Today, the students’ capstones were presented in the following order. And while the presentations were taking place, Alison was doing “captures” of all of them.

•Alison, Interpretive Signage for the Woodland Regional Park
•Mica, Recharging Groundwater (and Enticing Beavers!) in the Cache Creek Watershed with the Capay Valley Regeneration Project
•Edna, Advocacy: Protecting the Bridgewater Island Pond
•Tracy,Conaway Ranch Field Trip Enrichment Materials
•Jeanette, 6-Week Learning Module for 6th-8th Graders Focusing on California Species & Water
•Allan, Interactive Map of the Plants in the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
•Holly, Re-Oaking the Valley with Napa County’s Resource Conservation District (RCD)
•Ken, Training Module for the Woodland Regional Park Docent Training Booklet
•Kelli & Katie, Sacramento Heron & Egret Rescue Advocacy Video

Sarah Angulo, the Community Education Specialist for the Certified California Naturalist program at the University of California, came to the class to watch the capstones and pass out the certificates. She said, “In a wholly unbiased opinion, I can tell you that Tuleyome’s students have the BEST capstones.” Yay! #CalNat