Not Quite Gall City at the Cosumnes and Stone Lake Preserves, 07-23-23

After feeding and pottying my dog Esteban, I headed out to the Cosumnes River Preserve to look for galls and any fading plants I could find before they’re gone for the year.

On the way there, I stopped briefly at the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to check the oak trees and the rose bushes there. There are usually very few oak galls or willow galls at this location, so I wasn’t expecting too much. I did see some leaf-on-leaf galls and some Spined Turban galls on the Valley Oaks but not much. On the rose bushes there were plenty of the heavy bract galls visible.

There were quite a few orb-weaver spiders in the gaps between the bushes and branches. They haven’t fattened up here yet, and I’m inferring that’s because there may be a lack of insects for the spiders to eat.

On the tip of a dried bit of a rush, I found what I first thought might be some kind of odd little caterpillar, but it didn’t move when I touched it. It also didn’t feel “fleshy”, rather the different components felt smooth, almost “glassy”. I knew I needed to get a closer look with my magnifying “eyeball” [a clip-on loupe that works with the camera on my cell phone.] Soooo… I actually went into the restroom facility to sit down with the bit of rush and get a better look at what was on it.

When I went into the prefab restroom building, I found it was full of small dusky-winged flies. There must have been about 50 of them in there, and they were all over everything, including the toilet itself. I shooed a bunch of them away, sat down, and did “double doody”, relieving myself and checking out the things on the bit of rush. [TMI, I know.] I was VERY surprised to find that the things were actually teeny-tin-tiny eggs! They were round, and mottled like marbles. I have no idea what kind of small insect laid them, so I’ll have to do a lot of research.

As for the little dusky-winged, the eyeball lens was able to get a few close-up photo of them, and I could see how “fluffy” they were and how feathery their antennae were. My brain said, “They’re moths!” Close, but no cigar. They were actually Bathroom Moth Flies! What a perfect name for them. They’re related to Drain Flies and Sewer Gnats.

“… There are more than 4700 known species worldwide, most of them native to the humid tropics. This makes them one of the most diverse families in the Order…”

Adults live for about 12 days on water and nectar, and they are protected from drowning by the water-repellent hairs on their bodies. Surprisingly, they are also immune to the effects of bleach and drain cleaners; even boiling water won’t take them out. Wow! Tough little cookies!

I could hear a lot of birds around the area, but couldn’t get decent photos of most of them: Red-Winged Blackbirds, Brewer’s Blackbirds, American Robins, and House Finches. The only mammals I saw here were a couple of Desert Cottontail Rabbits which looked rather young.

I then headed over to the Cosumnes River Preserve and the agricultural fields around it. I stopped a few times along Bruceville and Desmond Roads. On the oak trees, I found a few Spined Turban galls (but most of them were tiny), some Jumping galls, and some very fresh Flat-Topped Honeydew galls. These were moist with honeydew, and being protected by a phalanx of very busy ants.

That was about it on the gall front. It may be that we have to wait until the end of August to get a good showing of the various galls.

I then drove further along Desmond Road and onto Franklin Road to get some photos of the wild sunflowers, fennel, bisnaga, and chicory in bloom. Among them were a variety of bees, wasps and flies, including Broad-Headed Marsh Flies, Western Honeybees, Tripartite Sweat Bees, and Yellowjackets. There were larger black wasps and smaller wasps that I thought might be Potter’s Wasps, but I couldn’t get photos of them.

I also got some photos of the House Finches along the fence line, but that was about it.

I didn’t go down to the boat ramp area. [I have to remember to get over there next time.] I had wanted to check to see if the Water Hyacinth was going wild over there as it had in previous years. As I was driving in, I could see it along the freeway in the sloughs and cattle ponds. The flowers are quite lovely, but the plants are totally invasive and choke out water environments. Here are some photos of the plants clogging the boat ramp area a few years ago:

I did stop by the pond near the boardwalk area, and was happy to see there was water in it. The surface was bubbling in places as bullfrogs, not yet fully metamorphosed, came up to the surface to grab a breath of air before plunging back down into the water. On the edge of the pond was a Great Egret that was fishing. I saw it catch at least one fish (or bullfrog tadpole) while I was watching it. I got a few photos of it before I headed back home.

I was out for about three hours. This was hike #40 in my #52hikechallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. American Robin, Turdus migratorius
  2. Bees, Tripartite Sweat Bee, Halictus tripartitus
  3. Bees, Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii
  4. Bisnaga, Visnaga daucoides
  5. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  6. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  7. Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides
  8. Broadleaved Pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium
  9. Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
  10. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  11. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
  12. Common Spikeweed, Centromadia pungens
  13. Crickets, Infraorder: Gryllidea
  14. Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Sylvilagus audubonii
  15. Dragonfly, Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum
  16. Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
  17. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  18. Flies, Bathroom Moth Fly, Clogmia albipunctata
  19. Flies, Broad-Headed Marsh Fly, Helophilus latifrons
  20. Flies, Margined Calligrapher, Toxomerus marginatus [hoverfly]
  21. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  22. Frog, American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus
  23. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  24. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  25. Jumping Gall Wasp, Neuroterus saltatorius
  26. Killdeer, Charadrius vociferous [heard]
  27. Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidea [on Valley Oak]
  28. Leafy Bract Gall Wasp, Diplolepis californica [hard rosette gall on rose bush]
  29. Milkweed, Narrowleaf Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis
  30. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  31. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  32. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  33. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  34. Pepperweed, Lepidium sp.
  35. Plum, Prunus domestica
  36. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  37. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus [along highway]
  38. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  39. Roses, California Wild Rose, Rosa californica [pink]
  40. Silver Long-Jawed Orbweaver, Tetragnatha laboriosa
  41. Smartweed, Swamp Smartweed, Persicaria hydropipe
  42. Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii, unisexual, Summer generation
  43. Spiny Leaf Gall Wasp, Diplolepis polita [on rose bushes]
  44. Sunflower, Common Sunflower, Helianthus annuus
  45. Sycamore, Western Sycamore, Platanus racemosa
  46. Thistle, Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
  47. Thrip, Predatory Thrip, Aeolothrips sp.
  48. Western Spotted Orbweaver, Neoscona oaxacensis
  49. Western Yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica
  50. Willow Pinecone Gall Midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides
  51. Willow, Goodding’s Willow, Black Willow, Salix gooddingii
  52. Willow, Narrowleaf Willow, Sandbar Willow, Salix exigua
  53. Willow, Salix sp.
  54. ?? Tiny eggs on grass

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