I got up around 5:00 AM to get Esteban and myself ready to go on an outing with my friend Roxanne to Sailor Bar. We were there to check out whatever galls we could find.
We stopped to get coffee and put gas in the car first. The sun was just coming up through stripes of clouds; lots of “god-light” to be seen. Pretty. The sky continued to be pretty throughout our walk.
When we got to the park we got waylaid, when we first arrived, by a live oak tree sporting some of its summer spiky galls near the side of the road. Then we noticed other plants and shrubs in the vicinity, including little blue oaks with urchin galls on them, some tarweed, vinegar weed and chamise. I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to see chamise so closely. Usually, I see it at a distance from a car window as we’re driving through the foothills.
We saw a few, very few, insects including some crab spiders and some Bordered Plant Bug nymphs. One of the crab spiders, a Running Crab Spider, was one I’d never seen before. So that was cool. We also came across some Cabbage White butterflies and Gray Buckeye butterflies.
On the oak trees, we found quite a few different galls including Crystalline galls, Live Oak Apple galls, Saucer galls, Pumpkin galls, stem galls, Erineum mite galls, Cluster galls, Plate galls, Hair Stalk galls, just a few Gray Midrib galls, Club galls and Red Cones. Phew!
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
We also found some Willow Pinecone galls, and some Bud Galls on Coyote Brush bushes.
Near the pond, we saw some Mallards and some Wood Ducks, and a Red-Eared Slider Turtle in the water. I could hear a bullfrog croaking nearby, but couldn’t catch sight of him.
On the way out, we stopped by some Datura plants, and Rox checked out some of the seed pods that had already cracked open. I was fascinated by the elaiosome on the seeds. Elaiosome is a fleshy bit on the end of some plant seeds that is rich in protein and fatty acids (lipids). Insects, like ants, are attracted to the seeds and carry them off to eat the elaiosome and feed it to their young.
According to the article Exploring Myrmecochory: Does Elaiosome Presence Affect Ant Seed Choice? by Alex Karnish:
“…To test whether elaiosome presence and size impacts ant choice, seed choice experiments were carried out with the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex barbatus and Datura wrightii (Solanaceae). In the field, wild colonies of harvester ants were presented with D. wrightii seeds with and without elaiosomes attached, and seed removal rates were recorded in order to test whether elaiosome presence increased the rate of dispersal. Unexpectedly, contrary to the general understanding of myrmecochory, rather than bringing the seeds to the colony, the ants picked up the seeds and moved them away. This happened regardless of elaiosome presence or absence. Furthermore, seeds with and without elaiosomes were moved away at the same rate (0.2 seeds per minute, p=0.79). These counterintuitive results raise the possibility that the seeds are coated in chemicals, such as oleic acid precursors, that may induce corpse-carrying behavior in the ants. These results also indicate that the interaction between D. wrightii and harvester ants may be a parasitic relationship, in which the ant is bearing the cost of carrying the seed without gaining the benefit of a food reward, rather than the mutualistic interaction that ant-mediated seed dispersal is widely considered to be…”
How interesting is that?!
We were out for almost 5 hours (stopping a few times to sit and rest). This was hike #48 in my #52HikeChallenge for the year.
- Azolla, Water Fern, Azolla filiculoides
- Amazon Frogbit, Limnobium laevigatum [water plant]
- Blackberry, Armenian Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus [red canes]
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
- Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
- Cabbage White Butterfly, Pieris rapae
- California Bordered Plant Bug, Largus californicus [nymphs]
- Chamise, Adenostoma fasciculatum
- Club Gall Wasp, Atrusca clavuloides
- Clustered Gall Wasp, Andricus brunneus
- Coffeeberry, California Buckthorn, Frangula californica
- Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina
- Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Crab Spider, Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia
- Crab Spider, Running Crab Spider, Family: Philodromidae
- Crown Whitefly, Aleuroplatus coronata
- Crystalline Gall Wasp, Andricus crystallinus
- Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Frog, American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus [heard]
- Grasshopper, California Rose-Winged Grasshopper, Dissosteira pictipennis
- Gray Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia grisea
- Gray Midrib Gall Wasp, Cynips multipunctata
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Green Shield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata
- Hair Stalk Gall Wasp, Andricus pedicellatus [thread gall on blue oak]
- Hooded Rosette Lichen, Physcia adscendens [hairs/eyelashes on the tips of the lobes]
- Irregular Spindle Gall Wasp, Andricus chrysolepidicola [on white oaks, Blue, Valley, etc.]
- Lily Stem Gall Midge, Lasloptera sp. [on Utherial Spear’s in the spring]
- Live Oak Apple Gall Wasp, Summer, asexual generation, Amphibolips quercuspomiformis [spiky ball]
- Live Oak Erineum Mite Gall, Aceria mackiei
- Live Oak Folded Leaf Aphid, Stegophylla essigi [in live oaks, folds the leaf over itself; sometimes the leaf turns red/reddish]
- Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mullein, Turkey Mullein, Doveweed, Croton setiger
- Non-Biting Midge, Cricotopus sp.
- Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard]
- Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Oak Ribbed Casemaker Moth, Bucculatrix albertiella
- Oak, Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
- Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
- Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Pit-Gland Tarweed, Narrow Tarweed, Holocarpha virgata virgata
- Plate Gall Wasp, Andricus pattersonae
- Pumpkin Gall Wasp, Dryocosmus minusculus
- Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
- Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
- Round-Gall Wasp, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [round, fuzzy, on twigs]
- Ruptured Twig Gall Wasp, Callirhytis perdens [on live oaks]
- Sacred Datura, Datura wrightii [seeds have elaiosome on them]
- Saucer Gall Wasp, Andricus gigas
- Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii [summer, asexual generation, pink, spiky top]
- Striped Volcano Gall Wasp, Andricus atrimentus, asexual, summer generation [looks like a tiny volcano]
- Tall Flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis
- Urchin Gall Wasp, Cynips quercusechinus
- Vinegar Weed, Trichostema lanceolatum
- White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis [heard]
- Willow Beaked-Gall Midge, Rabdophaga rigidae
- Willow Pinecone Gall Midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides
- Willow Stem Sawfly, Euura exiguae
- Willow, Interior Sandbar Willow, Salix interior
- Wood Duck, Aix sponsa
- Woolly Oak Aphid, Stegophylla brevirostris [lots of white fluff, honeydew]
- Yellow Star-Thistle, Centaurea solstitialis
- Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Druon fullawayi