I got up at 6:00 this morning, and headed out with my friend Roxanne for Johnson-Springview Park in Rocklin a little before 6:30. This was round two of our gall hunt there.
The last time we were there, we stuck mainly to the Blue Oaks in the front of the park. Today we went looking for the Valley Oaks and the Interior Live Oaks to see if we could find different galls on them. That’s not to say we didn’t shop at the Blue Oaks we came across, but we tried to keep moving to see the other oaks and plants in the middle section of the park. All the while we were out there, we had to keep an eye out for the disc golf players who were out in the park.
Although we found a variety of different species of wasp galls, it was very apparent to both of us that we weren’t seeing the number of galls that we normally see. Fewer galls means fewer wasps, or wasps that aren’t laying as many eggs as they normally do. And we still haven’t found ANY of the spiky-ball summer galls of the Live Oak Gall Wasp. That’s worrisome. Might we be seeing the beginning of the end of some of these species?
On the Blue Oaks we found Clustered Galls, two different generation galls of the Striped Volcano Gall Wasp, pale yellow and bright pink galls of the Crystalline Gall Wasp, Gray Midrib galls, Saucer galls, Plate galls, Dried Peach galls, Coral galls, a couple of Disc Galls, and some Urchin galls. The most Urchins we found were on a tiny tree that had a wide variety of different galls on it. Some were pink, pink with white tips, or varying shades of purple.
On the Interior Live Oaks we found some old springtime galls of the Live Oak Gall Wasp, a single older Kernel gall, and a few Pumpkin galls. A nice surprise was being able to find some old spring galls of the Two-Horned Gall Wasp. We didn’t see any of the summer galls of that species, though… and I’m wondering if the extreme heat we’ve had this year burned out some of the summer generations of some of the species, or if we’ll see the summer generation galls later in the year when (potentially) it cools off a little bit before the Fall. There’s just so much we don’t know.
Later in the day, at lunch, Roxanne found this great 69-page article on keying out and identifying the gall wasp species:
“…While much has been learned regarding the phylogeny and evolution of cynipoid wasps, clearly illustrated diagnostic tools and identification keys have remained stagnant. So too, where keys do exist, they are often to genus or species, and there are no user-friendly keys to groups such as tribes, subfamilies, or families. This state of affairs leaves a knowledge gap for non-specialists and slows future research on the group. To address this, we provide a fully illustrated key to the higher-level groups of world Cynipoidea. We also provide summaries of all higher-level taxa with updated generic lists, biological data, distribution, and literature resources. The dichotomous key presented here is complimented with a multi-entry matrix-based key, created in Lucid, and served on www.waspweb.org with online versions of the dichotomous keys also available…”
Always learning more about these creatures.
On the Valley Oaks we found the Oak Apples, Red Cone galls, Convoluted galls, Spiney Turban galls, Yellow Wig galls, what we think might have been an old Rosette gall, and a single gall of the Live Oak Gall Wasp and the Fuzzy Gall Wasp, Burnettweldia washingtonensis.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
We saw what we thought might have been an example of the mid-twig gall of the Split Twig Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus asymmetricus… but then, that only forms on Canyon Live Oak, and we found it on a Valley Oak, so more research is needed.
On one tree, we found honeybees lapping up the honeydew from the galls of the Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp. Roxanne got the best photo of one of the bees with its tongue out.
We also found examples of acorn affected by Drippy Nut, cause by the bacterium Lonsdalea quercina populi.
On another tree, we found the old cocoon of a tussock moth with eggs on it.
“…The tiny, whitish eggs occur in a mass of several hundred, covered with the female’s brownish hairs… Pupae occur on or near the host plant… Tussock moths overwinter as eggs. The tiny, dark caterpillars hatch in spring and can use a silk strand and their body hairs to float on the wind to other trees. After feeding, mature larvae pupate on bark in a hairy, brown or tan cocoon. The emerging females produce pheromone to attract the night-flying males; females of some species are flightless. Adults occur from late spring through at least early summer. There are one or two generations per year, depending on the species and location…”
On some of the cattails in the creek, we also found a few examples of “fasciation”.
“…Fasciation, also known as cresting, is a relatively rare condition of abnormal growth in vascular plants in which the growing tip which normally is concentrated around a single point and produces approximately cylindrical tissue, instead becomes elongated perpendicularly to the direction of growth, thus producing flattened, ribbon-like, crested (or “cristate”), or elaborately contorted, tissue…”
In the cattails, some of the heads were split into threes, with three heads growing from a single stem. Very interesting!
So there was lots to see. We didn’t see many birds, however, but I still got some photos of a Black Phoebe, and some of the Yellow-Billed Magpies in the park. Many of the magpies were going through a molt, so they were looking a bit ragged.
There were also a few Western Fence Lizards darting about, including some pairs and a few tiny baby lizards.
We walked for a little over 3 hours and then headed back toward Sacramento. This was walk #75 of my annual hike challenge. We were happy to have had a fun outing and good weather. The PM2.5 AQI levels in the area reached 105 AQI (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) today, so the air quality is actually getting a bit better day-to-day. We can still smell smoke, though, depending on which way the wind blows.
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- American Plantain, Plantago rugelii
- Bean, Common Bean, Phaseolus vulgaris
- Bittersweet Nightshade, Solanum dulcamara
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
- Boreal Button Lichen, Buellia disciformis [pale gray to bluish with black apothecia on wood]
- Broadleaf Cattail, Bullrush, Typha latifolia
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- Clustered Gall Wasp, Andricus brunneus
- Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange,on wood/trees]
- Convoluted Gall Wasp, Andricus confertus
- Coral Gall Wasp, Burnettweldia corallina
- Crown Whitefly, Aleuroplatus coronata
- Crystalline Gall Wasp, Andricus crystallinus
- Disc Gall Wasp, Andricus parmula [round flat, “spangle gall”]
- Dog, Canis lupus familiaris
- Dried Peach Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis simulate
- Drippy Nut, Lonsdalea quercina populi [bacterium that affects acorns]
- Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
- Elegant Zinnia, Zinnia elegans
- European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
- Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
- Gray Midrib Gall Wasp, Cynips multipunctata
- Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis
- Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
- Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Kernel Flower Gall Wasp, Callirhytis serricornis
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous [in the road]
- Live Oak Gall Wasp, Spring Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis [looks like a soft funnel, green to brown]
- Live Oak Kermes, Allokermes cueroensis
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Narrowleaf Cattail, Typha angustifolia
- Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
- Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus [heard, glimpsed]
- Plate Gall Wasp, Andricus pattersonae
- Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
- Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
- Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
- Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus [flyover]
- Rock Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia conspersa
- Rock Tripe, Emery Rocktripe Lichen, Umbilicaria phaea
- Rosette Gall Wasp, Andricus wiltzae
- Round Gall Wasp, Cynpis conspicuus [round gall near base of leaf on Valley Oaks, formerly Besbicus conspicuus]
- Round-Gall Wasp, Fuzzy Gall, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [round, fuzzy, on twigs]
- Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas [cup shaped, sometimes rough edges]
- Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii [summer gall, pink, spikey top]
- Striped Volcano Gall Wasp, Andricus atrimentus, Spring generation [looks like a ball on the side of the leaf; dark inside]
- Striped Volcano Gall Wasp, Andricus atrimentus, Summer generation [looks like a tiny volcano]
- Sunflower, Common Sunflower, Helianthus annuus
- Swamp Smartweed, Persicaria hydropiperoides [white, single stem]
- Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
- Two-Horned Gall Wasp, bisexual gall, spring generation, Dryocosmus dubiosus [looks like a hard, shiny, brown “beak” on the edge of the leaf]
- Urchin Gall Wasp, Cynips quercusechinus
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
- Western Tussock Moth, Orgyia vetusta [cocoon with eggs]
- White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis [heard]
- Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Andricus fullawayi
- Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli
- ?? Jumping Spider [on cattails]