Some New Finds and Cooperative Critters Today, 09-06-19

It was a lovely 59º when I got to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve around 6:30 am , and I walked for about 4 hours.  It was 76º outside when I headed back home.

The first thing I saw when I drove into the parking lot was a very healthy-looking coyote.  I felt that was an auspicious start to the day.  Saw a little bit of everything from galls to dragonflies to deer, so I felt it was a “successful” walk

I had a California Ground Squirrel walk right up to me with a nut in her mouth, like she was offering it to me. As long as I stood perfectly still she was fine, but the minute I shifted my foot, she pivoted to her left, ran down the trail with her tail up in the air and ducked into a pile of brush. A few minutes later, I could hear her coming up in the grass behind me. I turned around and — she ran down the trail with her tail up in the air and ducked into a pile of brush. Hah! I just love these little guys.

California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi

I always tell my students, when you’re out in nature look for the anomalous stuff:  colors that don’t match, shapes that seem different from what’s around them, shadows that look darker than the other shadows… Well, when I was leaving the preserve, I saw an anomalous lump on the back of a sunflower, so I went over to the flower to check it out.  It was a large praying mantis – who caught my finger in one of her spined elbows and clenched hard enough to break the skin and make me bleed.  Ouchie! (It was my own fault for picking her up.)

On the leaf of an oak tree, I also found a teneral Common Green Lacewing with a spider attached to it.  The lacewing had just molted and wasn’t colored-up yet.  It kept trying to walk away and fly, but the spider was holding onto one of its wings so it couldn’t get anywhere.  Very National Geographic.

I also came across a small group of female Rio Grande Wild Turkeys, and one of them had with growths on her head and face like the “Collector” skeksis from “The Dark Crystal” (who had oozing pustules all over her face).  Kinda gross.  [[Oh, and speaking of “The Dark Crystal” I was surprised to find that Simon Pegg was the voice of The Chamberlain in the new series.  Hah!]]

But back to the turkey: lesions like that can be indicators of Avian Pox or Lymphoproliferative Disease (a kind of cancer in turkeys), so I passed some photos of her on to the crew that works at the preserve so they were aware of her and could check her out (if they can find her again). Might be nothing, but you never know.

A female Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia , with lesions on her head and snood.

Whenever you see a wild animals with injuries or odd growths on it or some kind of deformity, let the folks who oversee the area know and give them as much info as you can. This is part of the whole “community science” effort; providing professionals with the information they need.

I kind of figure that “dispatching” might be the first go-to response by some rangers, which is sad, but I understand it. You don’t want the animal to suffer and you don’t want it communicating disease to others (if it has anything creepy). Some places, like the Effie Yeaw Preserve, though, work with other biologists to get more information and plan for more options… but they can’t do anything if no one brings the affected animal(s) to their attention.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I saw some deer on my walk, too, but no babies.  Just does and some boys in their velvet.  All of them were pretty well hidden, too, behind snags and tall grass or in the shadows.  Made picture-taking difficult.

Oh, and one more thing… I used the clip-on macro lens on my cell phone to get some snaps of what I first might be a Crown Whitefly nymph on the leaf of a Showy Milkweed plant.  As I looked at it more, though, I realized it had distinctive legs and a yellow-orange head under all of the exuded white waxy filaments on its body, so I did some more research on it and found that it most likely the larva of a Mealybug Destroyer, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri.  These “Crypts” are related to ladybeetles but they’re much smaller in size. The adult Destroyers have a round black body (like a ladybeetle-shape), a reddish-orange face and pronotum, and black eyes.  Very cool. 

The larva of a Mealybug Destroyer, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri

As I mentioned, I walked for about 4 hours and then headed back home.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus [tadpoles]
  3. Assassin Bug, Zelus luridus
  4. Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  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. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  11. California Funnel Web Spider, False Tarantula, Calisoga longitarsis
  12. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  13. California King Snake, Lampropeltis getula californiae
  14. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  15. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  16. California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  17. California Wild Grape, i
  18. Chinese Praying Mantis, Tenodera sinensis, female
  19. Clustered Gall Wasp, Andricus brunneus
  20. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  21. Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea
  22. Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus
  23. Coyote, Canis latrans
  24. Crystalline Gall Wasp, Andricus crystallinus
  25. Disc Gall Wasp, Andricus parmula
  26. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  27. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  28. Fiery Skipper, Hylephila phyleus
  29. Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
  30. Gopher Snake, Pacific Gopher Snake, Pituophis catenifer catenifer
  31. Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
  32. Green Darner Dragonfly, Anax junius
  33. Hair Stalk Gall Wasp, Dros pedicellatum
  34. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  35. Jimson Weed, Datura stramonium
  36. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  37. Long-Jawed Orb Weaver, Tetragnatha sp.
  38. Mealybug Destroyer, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri
  39. Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus oreganus
  40. Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Sophia, Aegolius acadicus
  41. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
  42. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  43. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  44. Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
  45. Pacific Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  46. Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marmorata
  47. Plate Gall Wasp, Liodora pattersonae
  48. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
  49. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  50. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  51. Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas, 1st Generation, unisexual
  52. Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas, 2nd Generation, bisexual
  53. Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
  54. Tarnished Plant Bug, Lygus lineolaris
  55. Trashline Orb Weaver Spider, Cyclosa conica
  56. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  57. Urchin Gall Wasp, Antron quercusechinus
  58. Variable Flatsedge, Cyperus difformis
  59. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
  60. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  61. Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus
  62. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensisAphis neriiAcorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus