A Crabby Baby Scrub Jay at Effie, 06-26-22

I got up around 5:00 AM and got myself ready to head out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for a walk before it got too hot. [It got up to 101º by the afternoon.] I haven’t been to the preserve in quite a while, and I was hoping to see some deer and some galls on the oak trees. The oak trees are still completely devoid of galls (beyond the ubiquitous Oak Apples), but I did see a few deer: young bucks in their velvet at the beginning and end of my walk.

On the Showy Milkweed plants near the nature center, I found a large katydid, several ladybeetle nymphs, a Green Lacewing, and lots of Oleander Aphids. It looked like there was some kind of worm or larvae on the “neck” of the lacewing, but I couldn’t find anything on what might parasitize them. More research needed. 

Also on the Showy Milkweed, I found a bee that had died because it got it’s foot stuck in the flower.

“…If you’ve never seen this, this is how it works: milkweed produces pollinia, a sticky structure or packet of pollen grains originating from a single anther (male part). During the flower’s complex pollination process, the mass is transferred as a single unit and looks like a yellow wishbone dangling on a honey bee’s legs or other parts of her anatomy. It’s a devious way for the milkweed to force insects to help them reproduce–in exchange for the sweet nectar reward… But it’s a trap, a floral trap. Sometimes you’ll see frenzied bees struggling to free themselves from the sticky nectar trough. They are not always successful. Return to the scene of the grime and you’ll see insect parts or whole insects trapped in the sticky mass. Dead…”  [Kathy Keatley Garvey]

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

I came across a very ant hill, of large black Harvester Ants. It looked to me as though the ants were carrying stuff OUT of the hill rather than carrying it in. I wondered if they were doing some late spring cleaning… or relocating the nest.  When I returned to the spot at the end of my walk, the ants were nowhere to be seen. So interesting.

I was intrigued and amused by a young fledgling Scrub Jay who, although he was certainly big enough to get his own food, he demanded that his parent feed him. I saw a couple of instances when the parent brought a tidbit and laid it down on the ground in front of the fledgling, and the fledgling picked it up, then put it back down again – and started crying to be fed. Hah!

Closer to the edge of the river, there was a Red-Winged Blackbird who was attacking people, including me. He’d swoop down out of an alder tree and go for your head. I don’t know if he was trying to establish a territory or protect a nest… but I thought that was such place for him to be. I’ve never seem the blackbirds down by that part of the river before.

I also saw both California and Spotted Towhees along the trail, including this Spotted Towhee who sang for me:

The river was actually a little higher than it had been during salmon season, and I saw quite a few plants partially submerged – like gold wire and centaury. 

Also along the edge of the river I was happy to find one of my favorite insects: the Big-Eyed Toad Bug. They hop around like tiny toads and can swim through the water as well as move quickly on land.

“…Toad bugs may walk rather rapidly, or they may hop, toadlike, along muddy, sandy, or rocky shorelines of streams or ponds…The family name, Gelastocoridae, means “laughing bug” or “ridiculous” or “funny bug” (gelasto means “laughing” in Greek). Somewhere, sometime, an entomologist was certainly amused by these minute, weird-looking, bouncy insects. When you see them, you may decide that they’re cute, as well…” [Missouri Dept. of Conservation]

“…Gelastocoridae are riparian insects, generally found at the margins of streams and ponds, where they are predators of small insects. Gelastocoridae catch their prey by leaping on top of them and grasping them with their modified front legs. Adults lay their eggs in sand. Nymphs of many species cover themselves with a layer of sand grains. Apart from the no doubt considerable physical protection that the armor affords them, the layer of sand renders them effectively invisible on the ground unless they move at the wrong moment. Many Gelastocoridae species can change their coloration to match their habitat…” [Wikipedia]

There were a lot of the tiny “blue” butterflies flitting around the rocks by the river, and further inland I saw quite a few California Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies feeding among the trees and some of the thistles in the fields. Most of the pipevine is gone by this time of year, so I’m hoping they’ll be able to find somewhere to lay their eggs…

I found Crown Whitefly eggs and nymphs on the underside of live oak leaves.

“…Typical whitefly life cycle of eggs laid over the surface of the leaf hatching to the mobile first instar nymph. As this moves to the second instar the legs are lost and the insect becomes sessile, feeding in one place through the next nymph stages and the pupa. Identified most easily by the pupa, which has a black oval body surrounded by wide lateral sheets of white wax, wide white wax sheets protruding from the front and rear, and a vertical dorsal ‘crown’ of white wax arising from the top of the body…” [PestWeb.com]

I walked for about 3½ hours before heading home. This was hike #37 of my #52HikeChallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
  2. Alder, White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  3. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  4. Ant, Andre’s Harvester Ant, Veromessor andrei [black]
  5. Bee Fly, Villa lateralis [looks like a bee but with fly eyes]
  6. Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  7. Big-Eyed Toad Bug, Gelastocoris oculatus
  8. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  9. Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
  10. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  11. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  12. Caddisfly, Net-Spinning Caddisfly, Hydropsyche sp.
  13. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  14. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  15. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  16. California Sweetshrub, Spice Bush, Calycanthus occidentalis
  17. California Sycamore, Western Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  18. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  19. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  20. Cattail, Broad-Leaved Cattail, Typha latifolia
  21. Centuary, Slender Centaury, Centaurium tenuiflorum [pink flowers]
  22. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  23. Common Madia, Madia elegans elegans
  24. Coyote Mint, Monardella villosa
  25. Coyote, Canis latrans [scat]
  26. Crown Whitefly, Aleuroplatus coronata
  27. Flax-Leaved Horseweed, Erigeron bonariensis
  28. Fragrant Everlasting. Pseudognaphalium beneolens [soft, pale, felty leaves]
  29. Grape Erineum Mite, Colomerus vitis
  30. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  31. Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis
  32. Ladybeetle, Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
  33. Ladybeetle, Spotless Lady Beetle, Cycloneda sanguinea
  34. Leafhopper, Euscelis sp.
  35. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  36. Live Oak Folded Leaf Aphid, Stegophylla essigi
  37. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  38. Max Chrysanthemum, Leucanthemum maximum
    Katydid, Bush Katydid, Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid, Scudderia furcata 
  39. Milkweed, Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa
  40. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  41. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  42. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  43. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  44. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  45. Oleander Aphid, Aphis nerii [yellow-orange with black legs]
  46. Redbud Seed Weevil, Gibbobruchus mimus
  47. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  48. Robber Fly, Efferia albibarbis
  49. Rose Blister Gall Wasp, Diplolepis rosaefolii
  50. Rosilla, Sneezeweed, Helenium puberulum
  51. Stink Bugs, Family: Pentatomidae
  52. Tarweeds, Madia sp.
  53. Towhee, California Towhee, Melozone crissalis
  54. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  55. Trefoil, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus
  56. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  57. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  58. Western Spotted Orbweaver, Neoscona oaxacensis
  59. Western Tailed-Blue Butterfly, Cupido amyntula
  60. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  61. Wren, Bewick’s Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  62. Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
  63. Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
  64. Yellow Star-Thistle, Centaurea solstitialis

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