Falling for Galls, 08-06-22

I got up at 5:00 AM, so I could be ready to go to the Cosumnes River Preserve with my friend Roxanne around 6:00 AM. We were looking for galls on the valley oaks trees that populate that area, and went first down Bruceville and Desmond Roads.

We stopped to look at some milkweed plants and wild rose bushes along Bruceville Road, and while we were moving around in the tall-ish grass, my right foot dropped into a hole covered by the grass and I toppled over. I tweaked out my already hurting left hip; and the fall also caused by left foot and ankle to bend backwards, the wrong way, so my toes were buzzing with nerve pain. Gad!  Once I fall, I can’t get back up – bad hip, no strength in my arms or legs to speak of – so I was VERY grateful that Roxanne was with me.

We tried various ways to lift me from the ground but none of them were working, so I suggested that Rox bring the car around and I’d try to pull myself up into that. She got the passenger side of the car as close to me as she could and opened the door. Laboring on my hands and knees, I got to the car, grabbed into the front seat and, with Roxanne’s help, finally, after two tries, was able to pull myself up enough to get my feet under me and stand up. Sheesh! If Roxanne hadn’t been with me, I would have had to call 911 for assistance. [Yes, I’m one of those “I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up” people. But I can’t afford the Life Alert system.]

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

It was physically and emotionally painful, and embarrassing and humiliating. This getting old stuff sucks. I took an extra pain pill before we continued on with the rest of our outing. There was one tree on Bruceville Road that, at first, we thought was a Valley Oak based on its leaves, but the acorns were all “wrong”: too large and too rounded to be Valley. Based on some research ,I thought maybe it was a Gambel’s Oak, but Rox and I settled on the probability that it was an Oregon Oak. We’ll see if we get any pushback from people on iNaturalist.

We stopped along Desmond Road to check out the trees there, and while we were there We saw a pair of fledgling Ash-Throated Flycatchers. They’re such pretty little birds. We didn’t see a lot of birds on this trip. Of course, we looking for them. We caught glimpses of Brewers Blackbirds, some sparrows, a couple of very dark morph Red-Tails, a Black Phoebe, some Greater Yellowlegs and Black Necked Stilts (at a distance), and three Great Egrets that were feeding in the pond by the boardwalk entrance.

Among the galls, I was especially looking for Disc Galls and Woollybears, and was very happy to have found them both. Yay!

On the oak trees we found Club Galls (some very tiny), Yellow Wigs, Spined Turbans, and Red Cones among others, like the Flat-Topped Honeydew galls that were dripping with honeydew.

We also found galls on the ash trees, and on the willows we found some Pinecone galls, stem galls, and beaked twig galls.

It was a fruitful excursion even though I had to stop at about 3-1/2 hours because my hip and leg were hurting. This was hike #47 in my #52HikeChallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Aphid, Giant Willow Aphid, Tuberolachnus salignus
  2. Ash Flower Gall Mite, Aceria fraxiniflora
  3. Ash Leaf Curl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifolii
  4. Ash, Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia
  5. Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
  6. Bee, Tripartite Sweat Bee, Halictus tripartitus
  7. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  8. Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  9. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  10. Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides
  11. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis [flyover]
  12. Checkered White Butterfly, Pontia protodice
  13. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
  14. Club Gall Wasp, Atrusca clavuloides
  15. Cobweb Spider, Phylloneta sp.
  16. Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange, on wood/trees]
  17. Disc Gall Wasp, Andricus parmula [round flat, “spangle gall”]
  18. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  19. Flax-Leaved Horseweed, Erigeron bonariensis
  20. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  21. Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  22. Hover Fly larvae, Family: Syrphidae [white blobby thing eating aphids]
  23. Leaf Beetle, Family: Chrysomelidae
  24. Little Black Ant, Monomorium minimum
  25. Mantis, Arizona Mantis, Stagmomantis limbata [large ootheca]
  26. Mayfly, Order: Ephemeroptera
  27. Meshweaver Spider, Mallos sp. [small, pale tan with dark dot on the abdomen]
  28. Milkweed, Narrowleaf Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis
  29. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  30. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  31. Oregon White Oak, Quercus garryana garryana
  32. Pale Smartweed, Persicaria lapathifolia
  33. Paper Wasp, Black Paper Wasp, European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula
  34. Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid, Pemphigus obesinymphae [new American species, “slit mouth”]
  35. Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota
  36. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  37. Redroot Amaranth, Amaranthus retroflexus
  38. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus [dark morph]
  39. Rose, California Wild Rose, Rosa californica [pink]
  40. Rough Cocklebur, Xanthium strumariumswal
  41. Round-Gall Wasp, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [round, fuzzy, on twigs]
  42. Small Milkweed Bug, Lygaeus kalmii
  43. Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii [summer, asexual generation, pink, spiky top]
  44. Stink Bugs, Family: Pentatomidae [eggs]
  45. Strap Lichen, Western Strap Lichen, Ramalina leptocarpha [without soredia]
  46. Tule, Common Tule, Schoenoplectus acutus
  47. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  48. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  49. Willow Beaked-Gall Midge, Rabdophaga rigidae
  50. Willow Pinecone Gall Midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides
  51. Willow Stem Sawfly, Euura exiguae
  52. Willow, Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
  53. Woollybear Gall Wasp, Atrusca trimaculosa
  54. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Druon fullawayi

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More Galls at J-S Park, 08-01-22

I got up around 5:00 AM to get the dogs fed and pottied, and then got myself ready to go to Johnson-Springview Park in Rocklin with my friend and fellow naturalist, Roxanne, by 6:00 AM. It was mostly cloudy and very humid all day thanks to once-was-a-hurricane Frank. The humidity really got to me, especially as the morning warmed up. Nevertheless, we still managed to stay out for about 4 hours. 

The park has a nice mix of heritage blue oaks, valley oaks, and live oaks, along with a few different species of willows and other plants along Antelope Creek. We were focused pretty much on just the galls we could find in the front park of the park, along the same route as the disk-golf range. We didn’t go into the back of the park on this trip where there are more valley oaks than anything else; maybe next time.

Among the many, many galls we found were some Round Honeydew galls which I hadn’t found anywhere else yet. They were even oozing honeydew!

There were quite a few Gray Midrib galls which were still in their green phase and hadn’t gone gray yet. That told me we were a little early checking out all of the gall there. Some, like the Coral Galls hadn’t erupted yet. We also didn’t find the Disc, Convoluted and Peach galls I was hoping to see.

On the other hand, as in other places this year, the Crystalline galls here were in profusion. I don’t remember ever seeing this many in a single season before. We also found quite a few Hair Stalk galls.(Usually we’ll maybe fine ONE per outing; today we found about a dozen!)

We also found the Blue Oak Erineum mite galls I was hoping to find. I’ve never found them anywhere except on one specific tree in this park. According to Russo: “…The concave depressions [on the back of the leaves] are covered with whitish hairs, among which the mites feed…” I took a few photos of the hairs, but even with the macro lens, they were hair to capture.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

A couple of fun finds for me: there were a number of the old spring generation galls of the Striped Volcano gall wasp. Like the tiny volcano galls we see in the summer, the spring generation galls are on the margins of the leaf on blue oak, but rather than being volcano-shaped, the spring galls are round and kind of papery with a blue-black interior. And, as is the case with two generation galls wasps, this one has a bisexual generation (spring, males and females) and an asexual generation (summer, females only). So cool!

We also found just one specimen of the Flange Gall Wasp gall. It looks like a fat little button with a ring of protruding triangular flanges coming out of the bottom of it. Fellow naturalist Karlyn Lewis had found some of these on her excursions in Rockville. [See her website.]

We came across a pale orange-pink caterpillar on one of the trees. I think it’s the caterpillar of a Dagger Moth. I was able to get a few close ups of it, including its little fat face, mouth parts and eyes.

“…Most Caterpillars have six very simple eyes on each side of the head (making 12 in all), although some species have five or seven each side. These light sensitive structures are called ocelli or stemmata. These probably only sense light and dark, and do not distinguish shapes or color…”

“…A caterpillar’s maxillae (small mouth parts that are under the mandibles) have taste cells; these chemical detectors tell the caterpillar to eat when the food is appropriate, and not to eat when the food is not appropriate. The tiny antennae, which are near the mouth parts, sense smells…”

I took over 380 photos with just my cellphone! Good thing I brought my charger pack with me. When we were “galled out” we looked for other critters like birds and squirrels and came across a male Nuttall’s Woodpecker who let us take some photos and video of him.

We also watched the antics of the ground squirrels who have a whole colony-thing going in the middle lawn of the park.

And we pulled some of the discolored and deformed acorns from the oaks so I could take a look at what was happening inside of them when I got home. [I really need Xacto blades for work like that. The house-knives are too big and just mess up a lot of what’s inside the acorn or gall or whatever.]

Like I said, we were out for about 4 hours and by then it was too hot and humid to do any more walking. This was hike #46 of my #52HikeChallenge for the year.

We then drove over to the Granite Rock Grille for brunch. I had a large plate of biscuits and gravy (the biscuits were sooooo light and fluffy), a fruit bowl on the side, and a spicy Bacon Bloody Mary to drink. They use jalapeño salt around the rim of the glass, which adds an extra kick to the drink. (I only like spicy Bloody Mary’s; the plain ones are just… yuck.)

Species List:

  1. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  2. Blue Oak Erineum Mite, Aceria trichophila
  3. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  4. Catalpa, Northern Catalpa, Catalpa speciosa
  5. Cattail, Narrowleaf Cattail, Typha angustifolia
  6. Club Gall Wasp, Atrusca clavuloides
  7. Clustered Gall Wasp, Andricus brunneus
  8. Coral Gall Wasp, Burnettweldia corallina
  9. Corn, Zea mays
  10. Crystalline Gall Wasp, Andricus crystallinus
  11. Cucumber, Cucumis sativus
  12. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger [rusty belly]
  13. Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto [heard]
  14. Fimbriate Gall Wasp, Andricus opertus
  15. Fuzzy-Gall Wasp, Cynips conspicuus [round mealy bumpy; on Valley oak]
  16. Gouty Stem Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercussuttoni
  17. Grasses, Dallis Grass, Paspalum dilatatum
  18. Gray Midrib Gall Wasp, Cynips multipunctata
  19. Green Lacewing, Chrysopa coloradensis
  20. Hair Stalk Gall Wasp, Andricus pedicellatus [thread gall on blue oak]
  21. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  22. Marbled Oak Dagger Moth, Acronicta marmorata [pinkish-orange caterpillar, sparse fine hairs]
  23. Mayfly, Speckled Dun, Callibaetis pictus [small, tan or brownish]
  24. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  25. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii
  26. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  27. Oak Powdery Mildew, Erysiphe alphitoides
  28. Oak, Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  29. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  30. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  31. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  32. Plate Gall Wasp, Andricus pattersonae
  33. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  34. Rosette Gall Wasp, Andricus wiltzae [on Valley Oak]
  35. Round Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis canescens
  36. Round-Gall Wasp, Fuzzy Gall, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [round, fuzzy, on twigs]
  37. Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas
  38. Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii [summer, asexual generation, pink, spiky top]
  39. Striped Volcano Gall Wasp, Andricus atrimentus, asexual, summer generation [looks like a tiny volcano]
  40. Striped Volcano Gall Wasp, Andricus atrimentus, bisexual spring generation [looks like a papery ball with a black interior]
  41. Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
  42. Tarweed,  Common Tarweed, Spikeweed, Centromadia pungens [prickly]
  43. Tarweed, Fitch’s Tarweed, Centromadia fitchii
  44. Urchin Gall Wasp, Cynips quercusechinus
  45. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
  46. Willow Bead Gall Mite, Aculus tetanothrix
  47. Willow, Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
  48. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Salix gooddingii
  49. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli
  50. Zinnia, Elegant Zinnia, Zinnia elegans

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