Lots of Sacred Lotus and some Scale, 06-23-20

I got up around 5:30 and headed over to William Land Park for a short walk around 6:00 am. Trying to beat the heat.  It got up to 100° F here today…

At the park, the sprinklers in the WPA Rock Garden and on some of the lawns were on or had just shut off, so things were wet and muddy in places, and the mud gummed up the tires on my walker.  Note to self: the rock garden is not the best place for a walker.  There are too many narrow turns and shallow steps, and I had to keep lifting the walker up to maneuver it around.

The gardeners there had apparently pulled out all of the Showy Milkweed in the place; I didn’t see a single plant.  But I did see some small stands of Narrowleaf Milkweed and Tropical Milkweed.  No signs of Monarchs yet.

The garden is in a transitional stage, too, from late spring blooms to summer blooms, so a lot of the plants are naked right now. Not a lot of different stuff for the pollinators to feed on; mostly lilies, buckwheat, and butterfly bushes.           

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Once again, I have to remark on how few insects I’m seeing when I’m out and about. Few bees, fewer butterflies and caterpillars, no praying mantises… It’s very concerning.

In the middle pond, the Sacred Lotus is now starting to bloom – and had taken over about ¾ of the water surface.  The blooms are lovely, but all that overgrowth on the surface shades everything below it. 

According to the Noble Research Institute: “…Its seeds, tubers and young unrolled leaves are edible for humans. The seeds are eaten by mallard and wood duck, the roots are eaten by beaver and muskrat, and the stems and leaves provide shade and habitat for fish, young waterfowl and marsh birds. Shade from its leaves can limit abundance of submersed aquatic plants. However, lotus can be aggressive and dominate most portions of a pond shallower than 7 feet [which] can limit more preferred duck food plants such as pondweeds, smartweeds and naiads…”

Naiads are dragonfly larvae.  Too many lotus plants means fewer dragonflies – and all the aquatic insect control the dragonfly larvae provide.  Humans just don’t think things through.  *Sigh*

I had taken some duck food with me which I fed to the ducks as I walked around the edge of the pond.  Mostly hybrid Mallards, and some Wood Ducks, including some young males who were just starting to get their adult feathers in. They were pretty scruffy looking.

Wood Duck, Aix sponsa, male

As I was leaving the park, I passed by a Yellow-Faced Bumblebee sleeping on some old chamomile flowers. He’d apparently been sleeping when the sprinklers came on because he  was dampish; very “bed-headed”.  I got some photos and video snippets of him as he rousted himself awake, but I’m sure he would have continued dozing if I hadn’t come by.

Yellow-faced Bumblebee, Bombus vosnesenskii

There was Iceplant growing in a bed by the parking lot, and I found a few specimens of Iceplant Scale, alternately referred to as “cottony soft scale” or “cushion bears”. Hah! 

These insects are interesting in that the female insects are followed by a white cottony “ovisac” in which she lays her eggs. The females only live for a couple of weeks, but can lay up to 2000 eggs.  I tried to get a photo of the eggs, but the egg sac I opened was, as luck would have it, empty. I’ll try again next time I see them.

I was only out for about 2 hours and then headed back home.

Species List:

  1. Angel’s Trumpet, Brugmansia arborea
  2. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  3. Annual Honesty, Lunaria annua [“Money Plant”, “Silver Dollar”]
  4. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon [heard]
  5. Blue Lily, Lily of the Nile, Agapanthus praecox
  6. Bolander’s Lily, Lilium bolanderi
  7. Buff Orpington Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var Orpington
  8. California Barberry, California Holly-Grape, Berberis pinnata
  9. Cardoon, Artichoke Thistle, Cynara cardunculus
  10. Cayuga Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Cayuga
  11. Century Plant, Agave sp.
  12. Cerulean Flax-Lily, Dianella ensifolia [tiny flowers, blue seeds]
  13. Chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile
  14. Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  15. Common Hibiscus, Hibiscus syriacus
  16. Common Toadflax, Linaria vulgaris [kind of looks like snapdragon]
  17. Crested Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Crested
  18. Desert Willow, Chilopsis linearis
  19. Domestic Swan Goose, Chinese Goose, Anser cygnoides domesticus [white or gray, knob on forehead]
  20. European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  21. Garden Sage, Salvia officinalis
  22. Garden Snail, Cornu aspersum
  23. Great Mullein, Verbascum thapsus
  24. Green Alga (freshwater), Chlorophyta ssp.
  25. Iceplant Scale, Pulvinariella mesembryanthem
  26. Italian Cypress, Cupressus sempervirens
  27. Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema sp.
  28. Kangaroo-Apple Nightshade, Solanum laciniatum
  29. Leaf-Cutter Bee, Megachile sp.
  30. Lilac Chaste Tree, Vitex agnus-castus [looks like butterfly bush]
  31. Mexican Honeysuckle, Justicia spicigera [orange flowers]
  32. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  33. Naked Buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum
  34. Narrowleaf Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis
  35. Nettle-leaved Bellflower, Campanula trachelium [pale purple flowers]
  36. Peruvian Lily, Alstroemeria psittacine
  37. Petty Spurge, Euphorbia peplus
  38. Pig’s Ear, Round-Leaf Navel-Wort, Cotyledon orbiculata
  39. Pincushion Flower, Sweet Scabious, Sixalix atropurpurea [dark maroon or pale pink]
  40. Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora [pink flowers; gnarly seedpods]
  41. Redvein Abutilon, Callianthe picta [hanging flowers]
  42. Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera
  43. Shasta Daisy, Leucanthemum maximum [large white daisy, yellow center]
  44. Smokebush, Smoke Tree, Cotinus coggygria
  45. Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima
  46. Tropical Milkweed, Asclepias curassavica
  47. Upright Prairie Coneflower, Ratibida columnifera
  48. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  49. Wild Basil, Clinopodium vulgare
  50. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa
  51. Yellow-faced Bumblebee, Bombus vosnesenskii
  52. ?? ground cover plant with small white flowers and red berries [maybe some kind of Valerian?]
  53. ?? ground cover plant with hanging heads; pink flowers in bracts [maybe some kind of shrimp-plant?]
  54. ?? long-leaved plant with long spires of red flowers [maybe some kind of bromeliad?]