Some New Insects, 09-17-19

I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for my walk.  It was a lovely 51º at the river and got up to about 84º by the late afternoon. We’re supposed to have a little rain tomorrow, so this was an “in between the storms” day, sunny, bright and little breezy.

There was actually a little bit of fog on the ground when I first arrived at the preserve, which I really enjoy.  And to kind of follow the fog, I took a slightly different route than I normally would.  Because we’re between seasons right now, there wasn’t a whole lot of anything new or different to see, but Nature always shows you SOMETHING, and the exercise is good for me.

  When I stopped to get some photos of a young doe and her fawn several yards away from the trail, a flock of female Wild Turkeys decided to have a dominance fight right there and then.  One hen was chasing another; they were running this way and that way, scrambling in circles, jumping up to kick one another while the other birds ran around gobbling and clucking.  It freaked the doe out so much that she ran behind a tree to get away from them, leaving her fawn to pretty much fend for itself.  And the fawn wasn’t sure what to do. He kept trying to sidestep the noisy crowd of turkeys, and eventually put himself among some fallen branches and high weeds to keep them from coming near him.  Poor thing!  It was actually kind of humorous.  I tried getting some video snippets, but the action sometimes went too fast for the camera to keep up.

CLICK HERE for a video snippet of the deer and turkeys.
CLICK HERE for another video snippet of the deer and turkeys.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

 Another “dang I missed it!” shot came up when I saw a California Ground Squirrel rushing toward me with its mouth full of dried grass.  Just as I focused on it, it ducked out of sight into its burrow.  The Ground Squirrels don’t really hibernate in the winter (because it doesn’t get cold enough) but they do line parts of their burrows with grasses to sleep on and stay warm.

In another spot, I found a HUGE orb-weaver spider’s web with the big orangey-colored spider sitting in the middle of it.  The web was about a yard tall and 2 feet wide.  Really big.  I got out my spritz bottle and covered the web with a mist of water so I could photograph it better.  The spider didn’t seem to mind; it didn’t even budge.

Western Spotted Orbweaver Spider, Neoscona oaxacensis, and her web.

            I also came across a couple of dragonflies.  One, a female Variegated Meadowhawk, was sitting on a naked branch with her wings arched forward toward her face, her back to the sun, trying to warm up her flight gear.  The other one, a female Red Rock Skimmer (the first one I’ve ever seen), was hanging from a tree like a Christmas ornament, warming up as much of its body as it could at one time. Her tail has a very intricate mosaic pattern on it, and her wings lacked the red “stain” that the males’ have.

A female Red Rock Skimmer Dragonfly, Paltothemis lineatipes

Speaking of dragonflies: I’ve mentioned Kathy Biggs several times in my posts and emails because she’s our local expert on dragonflies and damselflies. I recently found this old article on her that kind of exemplifies how everyday people can nurture their curiosity and become naturalists and experts without any advanced degrees or formal education – which is exactly what the Certified California Naturalist program is about.  CLICK HERE for the article.

As I was leaving the preserve, I stopped to look at the Showy Milkweed plants that are coming back after they were kind of savagely cut down by the gardeners (to eradicate the mildew that was affecting the plants).  On one of them I found a clutch of Ladybeetle eggs, and on another one, I found a rather showy insect I’d never seen before: a Hover Fly Parasite Wasp, Diplazon laetatorius.  It seems most of the parasitic wasps are tiny, as was this one.  They lay their eggs in the larvae of other insects.  For this parasite, its host are the larvae of syrphid flies (Hover Flies); and the syrphid fly larvae are “aphidophagous”, that is, they eat aphids.  So, where there are lots of aphids, you see lots of Ladybeetle larvae and Hover Fly larvae… and the parasitic wasps follow.  Smart.            

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed home

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Black Walnut Tree, Juglans nigra
  3. California Brickellbush, Brickellia californica
  4. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  5. Clustered Gall Wasp, Andricus brunneus
  6. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  7. Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea [eggs]
  8. Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus
  9. Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens [eggs]
  10. Convoluted Gall Wasp, Andricus confertus
  11. Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
  12. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis [female]
  13. Crystalline Gall Wasp, Andricus crystallinus
  14. Fleabane, Seaside Daisy, Erigeron glaucus
  15. Grey Flesh Fly, Sarcophaga bullata
  16. Hover Fly Parasite Wasp, Diplazon laetatorius
  17. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  18. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  19. Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
  20. Plate Gall Wasp, Liodora pattersonae
  21. Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
  22. Red Rock Skimmer Dragonfly, Paltothemis lineatipes [female]
  23. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  24. Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas, 1st Generation, unisexual
  25. Sudden Oak Death pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum
  26. Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Western Sulphur Shelf Fungus, Laetiporus gilbertsonii
  27. Trashline Orb Weaver Spider, Cyclosa conica
  28. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus dubiosus
  29. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  30. Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum
  31. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  32. Western Spotted Orbweaver Spider, Neoscona oaxacensis
  33. Yellow Starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis