Lace Bugs and Hawk Breakfast, 07-03-22

I got up around 5:30 this morning. It was cool, in the 50’s,when I let the dogs out for potty and got myself ready to go to the Gristmill Recreation Area. I wanted to get there early because I suspected a lot of boaters and tubers would be out on the water for this long holiday weekend. Although a few folks showed up, I generally had the trails all to myself for most of my walk. There was a nice breeze all the while, so I was energized enough to walk the entire trail.

I wanted to walk along the riverside to check the willows for more galls, but the river was running higher than normal (to accommodate 4th of July boaters) so all of the area I wanted to walk along was under water.  Dang it!

When a female Mallard swam through the water where I wanted to walk, I could see a raft of black flying insects (which I assumed were caddisflies) rising from the surface. But, of course, I couldn’t get close to them to know for sure. I did find one Black Dancer Caddisfly on some fennel later.

So, I begrudgingly walked the longer of the two trails there, and lamented more when I found that the shrubs and trees along the river side of the trail had been chopped away (to make the trail more clear and easier to walk, no doubt). But all that trimming meant that all of the galls and insects that lived at the sunny end of the branches were thrown out with the trimmings. That makes me crazy. I need to find a place where the willows are less…molested…by humans.

On the willows, I DID find more rosette galls, petiole galls and apple galls. Nothing new, though.

One of the things that really caught my eye early on along the trail was some witches broom-type growth on a dead plant. I couldn’t tell what the plant was but I think it might have been a black walnut seedling. The thing was so dead and degraded, though, I’m basing my ID on what I wan see of the remaining leaves. The broom was bright green and actually had an almost “Mugwort” smell to it. Very odd. The witches brooms are generally caused by Phytoplasmas (related to bacteria). On walnut trees it’s called “bunch diseases”.

I also found quite a few live oak acorns affected by “drippy nut”, the pectobacteria Lonsdalea quercina. So, the bacteria are all waking up now and doing their thing.

So are the ants. I saw at three distinct ant species as I walked along. One of the most striking was a small but active colony of exceedingly large (about ½ inch long) black and red ants in the dried grass. I could see two distinct sizes in the ants. I identified them as Bicolored Carpenter Ants. [[Of course, as soon as I posted that to iNaturalist, someone tried to knock my ID back to “Complex Camponotus sansabeanus”. Since the Bicolored Carpenter Ants are a part of that complex, I refused to alter my identification. Brat, I know.]]

Anyway, it looked as though these ants might have been looking for a satellite nesting site. They were all above ground, but digging in here and there under the dried grass. It’s not unusual for carpenter ants to create satellite nests, away from the queen, and up closer to where the heat from the sun can penetrate the ground. They can then transport the developing larvae to these sites and speedup their growth process – while the queen remains safe in her cooler, deeper chambers.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Another nice find today was that of some lacewing bugs on the leaves of the Mugwort plants. I identified them as Chrysanthemum Lace Bugs, Corythucha marmorata, because that species is sometimes found on Mugwort. They’re very tiny insects (less than 1/8 inch long), so I have to use the macro lens (which I call “the eyeball”) on my cellphone to see any detail on them.

I could hear a lot of birdsong around me, and got glimpses of some of the birds a they flitter through the trees, but only a few sat still long enough for me to get any kind of photos. Many of the birds I saw were youngsters just starting to work on their adult feathers, and adults that were mid-molt. So, many were kind of shabby looking.

There were some Red-Shouldered Hawks screaming at one another in the tree tops, and I assumed all the noise was between parents and their fledglings: the kids demanding to be fed, the parents yelling at them to find their own food. Hah! I did see one handsome male flying between the trees. Then it made low dive over a field and flew back up into the trees again. It landed very near where I was and I could see that it had caught a fat gray vole. It advertised its victory by screaming loudly so its family members could hear about it.

I walked for a little over 3 hours and then headed back home. This was hike #39 of my #52HikeChallenge for the year; and for the Summer Series, this was three hours of a required 20 hours for the challenge.

When I got home, I closed the top of the green waste trash bin (which had blown open) in the driveway and found an adult Leaf-Footed Bug sitting on the pavement. I got my cellphone out of my bag and took some photos of it before releasing it again. Always gotta keep a look out and have some photographic equipment close at hand. You never know when nature is going to show you something.

Species List:

  1. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  2. Ant, Bicolored Carpenter Ant, Camponotus vicinus [large, black and red]
  3. Ash, Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia
  4. Black Locust Tree, Robinia pseudoacacia
  5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  6. Black Walnut Witches Broom, Phytoplasma sp.
  7. Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra
  8. Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  9. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  10. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  11. Caddisfly, Black Dancer Caddisfly, Mystacides sepulchralis
  12. California Black Walnut Pouch Gall Mite, Aceria brachytarsa
  13. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi [heard alarm calls]
  14. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana
  15. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  16. California Vole, Microtus californicus
  17. California Wild Grape, Vitis californica
  18. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  19. Cottonwood Leaf Gall Aphid, Pemphigus populivenae
  20. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  21. Downy Woodpecker, Dryobates pubescens
  22. Drippy Nut Disease, Lonsdalea quercina [Proteobacteria]
  23. Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis [white belly]
  24. Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
  25. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  26. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  27. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  28. Lace Bug, Chrysanthemum Lace Bug, Corythucha marmorata
  29. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  30. Non-Biting Midge, Cricotopus sp.
  31. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  32. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  33. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  34. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  35. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  36. Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus obesinymphae
  37. Red-Shouldered Hawk, California Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans
  38. Silver Maple Tree, Acer saccharinum
  39. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  40. Tree-of-Heaven, Ailanthus altissima
  41. Western Leaf-Footed Bug, Leptoglossus zonatus
  42. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  43. Willow Apple Gall Sawfly, Euura californica
  44. Willow Petiole Gall Sawfly, Subfamily: Nematinae
  45. Willow Rose Gall Midge, Rabdophaga rosaria [on terminal bud point]
  46. Willow Rosette Gall Midge, Rabdophaga salicisbrassicoides [on stem]
  47. Willow, Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
  48. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Salix gooddingii
  49. Willow, Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  50. Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon

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