So Many Galls at Mather Lake, 06-17-22

I got up around 5:30 am. This is one of the few days in the next week or so when the temperatures are going to be in the 70’s. Next week, we’ll be over 100º. I went over to Mather Lake Regional Park for a walk. It was overcast and chilly when I got to the lake, but the morning sun was eventually able to break through now and then to light up the landscape and the lake. Just beautiful. It’s definitely tick season, however. I came home with TWELVE of them on me! [My sister Melissa pulled two off of my back.] Ahhhhhhrgh!

Apropos of nothing… I saw several spots on the lake where the water was “boiling”. I couldn’t tell if it was from fish or something else under the surface.

It looked to me like the trails had been augmented since the last time I was there. The main trail was widened in places making it easier to travel on.

You can see where the trail has been enlarged by cutting into the side of it [on the left in this photo.].
The “dark dirt” is all new surface to walk on.

Again, I was hoping to see dragonflies/damselflies and maybe some new-to-me pollinators. I was hoping, too, to maybe seeing some cicadas. Pickings were slim in those areas. The only thing I found were a few cicada exoskeletons clinging to the coyote brush bushes. That told me that the critters were around there somewhere, but I couldn’t see or hear them; too chilly for them in the morning, I guess.

There were tons of aphid galls on the leaves of the cottonwood trees, and lots of midge galls on the coyote brush. I was most surprised, though, by the number of apple galls on the arroyo willow trees (some of them being surrounded by small herds of aphids and some aphid-tending ants). There were also huge groupings of pinecone galls on the narrow leaf willow. I felt the same kind of “panic” in the shear number of galls that I felt about the acorns on the live oak trees at Sailor Bar. Nature is gearing up and back filling, getting ready for a stand against…what? It seems very foreboding to me.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Among the aphids I could see the abandoned bodies of “mummified” adults. Tiny parasitoid wasps lay their eggs in the body of the aphids.  According to the University of Maryland, “…The adult female wasp lays her eggs in aphids. The larva hatches and develops inside the aphid, eventually killing it. The larva is a tiny, white grub. When the larva completes its development, it pupates and turns the aphid body into a “mummy”. The mummies are swollen, brown or blackish (Aphelinids leave blackish mummies behind, and Aphidius create tan or golden aphid mummies), and papery in appearance. The adult parasite may chew a hole in the rear of the mummy to escape. Some species of parasites will pupate beneath the aphid.” You can see the tan mummies with the circular hole in them in the photo I took below:

No dragonflies or damselflies, but I did come across a lot of Yellow-Faced Bumblebees dozing on the leaves of the cottonwood trees and blackberry vines. And a new-to-me insect, the Four-Eyed Sigil Lady Beetle appeared on the coyote bush bushes. These lady beetles are far smaller than the regular Asian Lady beetles we’re used to seeing; they’re about the size of the head of a pin.

There were lots of different rushes showing off along the edges of the lake, along with the tules and the cattails.

I saw quite  few California Ground Squirrels (my favorite squirrel) running all over the place and chewing up the plants and grasses around them. When I was taking photos of some birds, one of the ground squirrels ran up near me and sat up, like it was interested in what I was seeing and doing. So cute.

In the water, I saw a few turtles swimming, and also saw some sunning themselves on whatever substrate they could find.  One of the turtles had come up out of the water literally covered in duckweed. There were both native Western Pond Turtles and invasive Red-Eared Slider turtles.

I could hear birdsong all around me, but only got a few fairly good photos of a few of them.  At one point, I saw a White-Tailed Kite chasing a Red-Shouldered Hawk across the sky away from the lake. There was so much noise between the two birds that all of the fishermen around me stopped what they were doing to watch the birds.

The Mute Swans were floating all over the lake, but I was lamenting the fact that, at first, I didn’t see any cygnets. I was concerned that maybe the department that oversees the lake had killed or removed them to control the swan population. Later, however, I did see a few of the babies hanging out in the water-side nests of their parents across the lake. I look forward to their venturing out in the water where I can get better photos of them.

In the video snippet below, you can see some of the older cygnets standing by while their mom works on repairing the nest.

I walked for four hours before heading home. This was hike #35 in my #52hikechallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Ant, Argentine Ant, Linepithema humile
  2. Aphid, Giant Willow Aphid, Tuberolachnus salignus
  3. Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
  4. Baccharis Stem Gall Midge, Rhopalomyia baccharis [creates twisting stems on coyote brush]
  5. Beaver, American, Beaver, Castor canadensis [den]
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
  8. Broad-Leaved Cattail, Typha latifolia
  9. Bull Thistle, Cirsium vulgare
  10. Bumblebee, Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii
  11. California Bulrush, Schoenoplectus californicus
  12. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  13. Cicada, Typical Cicada, Family: Cicadidae
  14. Common Gallinule, Gallinula galeata
  15. Common Hawkweed, Hieracium lachenalii
  16. Common Spikeweed, Centromadia pungens
  17. Cottonwood Leaf Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populivenae
  18. Coyote Brush Bud Gall Midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  19. Coyote Brush Stem Gall Moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella
  20. Coyote Brush Rust Gall, Puccinia evadens
  21. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  22. Crab Spider, Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia
  23. Duckweed, Common Duckweed, Lemna minor
  24. Eurasian Water-Milfoil, Myriophyllum spicatum
  25. Floating Primrose-Willow, Ludwigia peploides
  26. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  27. Giant Willow Aphid, Tuberolachnus salignus
  28. Grebe, Pied-Billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  29. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  30. Ladybeetle, Four-Eyed Sigil Lady Beetle, Hyperaspis quadrioculata
  31. Ladybeetle, Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
  32. Ladybeetle, Sigil Lady Beetles, Hyperaspis sp.
  33. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  34. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  35. Mute Swan, Cygnus olor
  36. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  37. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  38. Oak, Cork Oak, Quercus suber
  39. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  40. Pacific Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  41. Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marorata
  42. Pale-Lined Angle Moth, Digrammia irrorata
  43. Pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium
  44. Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus obesinymphae [new American species, “slit mouth”]
  45. Red Swamp Crayfish, Crawdad, Procambarus clarkii
  46. Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
  47. Red-Shouldered Hawk, California Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans
  48. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  49. Robber Fly, Subfamily: Asilinae
  50. Soft-Winged Flower Beetle, Listrus sp.
  51. Squarestem Spikerush, Eleocharis quadrangulata
  52. Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  53. Swamp Smartweed, Persicaria hydropiperoides
  54. Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
  55. Turkey Tangle Frogfruit, Phyla nodiflora
  56. Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
  57. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  58. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  59. Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
  60. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  61. Western Mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis
  62. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  63. Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Euura californica
  64. Willow Pinecone Gall Midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides
  65. Willow Rosette Gall Midge, Rabdophaga salicisbrassicoides [on stem]
  66. Willow Stem Sawfly, Euura exiguae
  67. Willow, Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
  68. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Salix gooddingii
  69. Willow, Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  70. Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  71. Yellow Star-Thistle, Centaurea solstitialis

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