Looking for Coral Galls, 09-10-20

I got up around 5:30 this morning, and got myself ready to head out to Johnson-Springview Park with my friend and fellow naturalist, Roxanne.  I didn’t see her drive up around 6 o’clock, partly because it was still dark outside and her car is practically silent when it’s in electric mode. So, I texted her asking if she was on the way, and should we reschedule.  She texted me back, “I’m here.” D’oh! I grabbed my gear and was out the door within seconds.

It was about 59° at the park when we go there, and got up to around 75° by the time we left.  Wildfire smoke was still obscuring the sunlight, so we were able to walk around longer this time than we were last time (when the sun just burned down on us). The leaves on the trees were all dusty with ash, and some of the trees looked quite stressed. It got up to around 82° today, which was a welcomed break from the 100+ degree we’ve been having.

We were going to the park in search of the galls of the Coral Gall Wasp, Disholcapsis corallina; they’re bright yellow and orange galls. We saw a lot of them last year at this location, but didn’t see any the last time we were there earlier this year.

One of the Coral Galls we saw last year. This year: Zero.

Our search was for naught. We didn’t see a single coral gall, but we did see quite a few other galls, including a couple that were new to Roxanne, so we were pleased with that.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The other thing we saw a lot of were large Green Darner dragonflies, all of them females.  They were resting on the plants or in the tall grass waiting to warm up. Two of them hadn’t gotten the “power packs” on their backs warmed up enough yet to fly, so I was able to gather them up in my hands. We got quite a few close-up shots of them.

A female Green Darner Dragonfly, Anax junius,showing of her shiny black mandibles

Both of the females I was able to capture bent their tails, as though threatening to sting.  Although they have no stinger, many dragonflies will mimic the stinging behavior in order to trick predators into letting them go. They also use their mandibles to bite. Although their mouth parts are made to effectively crunch up their insect prey, their bite on human skin feels more like a sharp pinch (that doesn’t draw blood).

Among the galls we found were some induced by the Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp. On one small collection of those, we found a honeybee licking the honeydew off the surface of the galls.

We also found some Woollybear galls and a single specimen of a gall of the Hair Stalk Gall Wasp. Those seem very “rare” to me; I usually only find one each year.

Both Rox and I were struck by what we DIDN’T see: no coral galls, no Crystalline galls, no kernel or two-horned galls, very few Disc galls… hardly any insects, hardly any birds.

We DID see our “spirit bird”, the Black Phoebe, and about a dozen Mourning Doves browsing in a field.

We actually ended up walking for almost 4 hours (!) before we headed out, stopping for iced coffee drinks on our way home.

Species List:

  1. Amaranth, Redroot Pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus
  2. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  3. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  4. Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  5. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  6. Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
  7. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  8. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis [flying overhead]
  9. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
  10. Club Gall Wasp, Atrusca clavuloides
  11. Clustered Gall Wasp, Andricus brunneus
  12. Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  13. Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea [eggs]
  14. Common Morning-Glory, Ipomoea purpurea
  15. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
  16. Dallis Grass, Dallisgrass, Paspalum dilatatum
  17. Disc Gall Wasp, Andricus parmula [round flat, “spangle gall”]
  18. Doveweed, Turkey Mullein, Croton setiger
  19. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  20. Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis
  21. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  22. Frosted Rim Lichen, Lecanora caesiorrubella [light gray with light gray apothecia on wood]
  23. Gold Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix candelaris
  24. Goodding’s Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  25. Gouty Stem Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercussuttoni
  26. Gray Mid-Rib Gall Wasp, Besbicus multipunctatus
  27. Green Darner Dragonfly, Anax junius
  28. Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
  29. Hair Stalk Gall Wasp, Dros pedicellatum
  30. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  31. Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
  32. Hoverfly, Margined Calligrapher Fly, Toxomerus marginatus [very tiny]
  33. Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  34. Irregular Spindle Gall Wasp, Andricus chrysolepidicola [on white oaks, Blue, Valley, etc.]
  35. Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidi [on Valley Oak]
  36. Live Oak Gall Wasp, 1st Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis [spiky ball]
  37. Magnolia, Cucumber Magnolia, Cucumber Tree, Magnolia acuminata
  38. Mexican Honeysuckle, Justicia spicigera
  39. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  40. Narrowleaf Cattail, Cattail, Typha angustifolia
  41. Narrowleaf Willow, Salix exigua
  42. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
  43. Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  44. Peach Gall, Dried Peach Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis simulata
  45. Pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium
  46. Pit-gland Tarweed, Holocarpha virgata
  47. Plate Gall Wasp, Andricus pattersonae
  48. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  49. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  50. Red Sesbania, Scarlet Sesban, Sesbania punicea
  51. Rosette Oak Gall Wasp, Andricus wiltzae
  52. Rough Cocklebur, Xanthium strumarium
  53. Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas
  54. Smartweed, Persicaria lapathifolia [white]
  55. Solitary Oak Leaf Miner Moth, Cameraria hamadryadella
  56. Spanish Clover, Acmispon americanus
  57. Spiny Turban Gall Wasp, asexual, fall generation, Antron douglasii
  58. Striped Volcano Gall Wasp, summer generation,  Andricus atrimentus [looks like a tiny volcano]
  59. Tarweed, Fitch’s Tarweed, Centromadia fitchii
  60. Unidentified aphid, Subtribe: Panaphidina
  61. Urchin Gall Wasp, Antron quercusechinus
  62. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  63. Woollybear Gall Wasp, Atrusca trimaculosa
  64. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Andricus fullawayi