Galls at Cosumnes, 07-31-21

I got up around 6:00 this morning and headed out to the Cosumnes River Preserve to see what was happening out there. I was looking for galls, hoping that they’d be further along than they were the last time I was out there. I first drove along Bruceville and Desmond roads, and stopped occasionally to look at the Valley Oaks along the roadside. Then I went into the preserve and walked along the paved trail that goes to the boat ramp.

Along the roads, I saw the usual suspects including some Cottontail rabbits and a covey of quail. I think there were some youngsters among the quail, but they were all moving so quickly and ducking into the underbrush that it was hard to tell for sure.

I also saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk who led me on a slow chase down the road: he’d land in one tree and as soon as I got close enough to photograph him, he’d fly down the road to another tree. It was a bit hide-and-seeky at some points, but I finally managed to get a few photos of him before he flew off across the fields.  

Male Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus

There was also a shy Kestrel that hid behind the twiggy branches of a tree, but I got a few pix of her as well.

A female American Kestrel, Falco sparverius

I saw a far greater variety and number of galls this time than I did the last time I was there, but man of them are still relatively small.

The Red Cone galls are starting to show themselves, but it seemed to me that more of them were white than red.  And I saw a few with two points on the top of the cone, and wondered if that was the influence of inquilines. Inquilines are insects (or other animals) that climb into the abode of another animal but don’t kill it like a parasite might.I’m just beginning to learn about them, so I don’t know enough yet to tell what’s what.

 There were lots of Spined Turban galls, most of them much larger than the other leaf galls only because they started sooner in the season. On one tree, which had darker more russet-tinted Oak Apples on it, the Turbans were a deeper shade of pink. Must have been lots of tannins in that tree?

Darker pink galls of the Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Antron douglasii [summer gall, pink, spikey top]

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

On some of the Oak Apple galls I could see exit holes through which the adult wasps emerged from the galls.  I also found some of the exuvia from some of them from those insects that shed their skin just before exiting the gall.  So fascinating.

I was most excited to see the Woollybear galls, and took way too many photos of them mostly because I hardly ever get to find them. In my experience, the wasps they’re associated with seem to prefer younger, shorter trees and lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves closest to the ground. On some of the leaves, there was only one or two of the “bears”; on others the entire under surface of the leaf was covered with them. Some of them were so new they still had some of their rosy color under their hair; looked like little pink butts.

I also kept an eye out for potter’s wasps pots, but didn’t find any. They usually build their pots in the spring and fill them with spiders and caterpillars to feed their babies.  By this time of year, the babies have matured into adults and the pots are empty.

There were a few dragonflies flitting about, but only a handful of them actually landed long enough for me to photograph them.  Mostly Variegated Meadowhawks.

I wanted to get close to the river to see if there was water hyacinth growing in the water or turtles along the shores, but there were so many people gathered around the boat ramp that I couldn’t get near it. I think I counted 30 (yes, 30!) kayaks while I was there. Sheesh!

I was happy to see a few of the little Buckeye butterflies along the trail as I was heading back to the car. They were taking nectar from the Turkey Tangle Fogfruit flowers close to the ground, and taking minerals from the dirt.

Common Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia coenia

I was out for about 3 hours and then headed back home. This was hike #67 of my annual hike challenge. (I’ve already done the required 52 hikes; now I’m trying to get to 104 by the end of the year.)

Species List:

  1. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  2. Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [pink flower]
  3. Bagrada Bug, Bagrada hilaris
  4. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  5. Blue Dasher Dragonfly, Pachydiplax longipennis [white faced]
  6. Broadleaved Pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium
  7. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  8. Canada Wild Lettuce, Lactuca canadensis [tall tree-like stems with lots of little flowers on top]
  9. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
  10. Common Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia coenia
  11. Common Spikeweed, Centromadia pungens
  12. Convoluted Gall Wasp, Andricus confertus
  13. Curly Dock, Rumex crispus
  14. Curlycup Gumweed, Grindelia squarrosa
  15. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  16. Disc Gall Wasp, Andricus parmula [round flat, “spangle gall”]
  17. Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis
  18. Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla rufilabris
  19. Heliothine Moth, Subfamily: Heliothinae [on gumweed]
  20. Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  21. Jumping Oak Gall Wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius
  22. Narrowleaf Milkweed, Mexican Whorled Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis
  23. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  24. Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii
  25. Plum, Prunus domestica
  26. Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota
  27. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  28. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  29. Round-Gall Wasp, Fuzzy Gall, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [round, fuzzy, on twigs]
  30. Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Antron douglasii [summer gall, pink, spikey top]
  31. Turkey Tangle Fogfruit, Phyla nodiflora
  32. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  33. Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum
  34. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  35. Western Small Milkweed Bug, Lygaeus kalmii kalmii
  36. Willowleaf Lettuce, Lactuca saligna [kind of look like chicory flowers only small and yellow]
  37. Woollybear Gall Wasp, Atrusca trimaculosa
  38. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Andricus fullawayi 
  39. ?? tiny spider between galls in a nest sac
  40. ?? bird’s nest [might be Western Kingbird or an Oriole]