Sunday, December 29, 2013
2013 Winter Solstice Bug Hunt and Count
Whew! It's a lot of working trying to find buggies in the scorching winter weather we're having here in SoCal. Didn't quite get to the count on the 21st . . . sorry traditionalists (which btw includes myself)! Yesterday and today have been in the 80s with a dry Santa Ana wind blowing. Typically I get some out of the ordinary bug sightings in any season with a strong wind. I guess when you weigh that little you get blown around a bit. Not this time, really, as the count is full of the usual suspects:
Lots of funnel web spider webs in evidence, and I saw three of the spiders, Hololena curta, outside their funnels.
Found 2 very small orb weaver spiders.
Under some bark chunks were 2 Under Log Spiders, appeared to be male and female just hanging out;
and a very tiny tan spider attacking a smallish beetle larva. The tiny spider ran around the larva, then jumped on it apparently biting judging from the reaction of the larva.
Near some small decorative desiccated mushrooms: 1 very tiny jumping spider not seen in this lovely mushroom photo.
1 whirligig mite, Anystis baccarum, found running around in circles. Have you seen how fast they are?
So a lot of arachnids without much identification.
1 greybird grasshopper, Schistocerca nitens, adult male.
2 bush katydids, Scudderia furcata, 3rd instar nymphs, this one hanging out on the senna artemisioides which is just coming into bloom. Flowers of all types are these guys' favorite foods.
Or at least evidence of them in the woodpile. Yikes.
1 black scale insect on a thick fennel stalk. See the semi-circular marks on the stem near the insect?
Looks like the movement of the insect made these marks in Slo mo.
Aphis nerii, oleander aphids, by the 100s on two colonized plants.
1 Green leafhopper.
1 myrid plant bug of the all-black persuasion.
2 Green lacewings, Chrysopa sp.
Grrrr. There are still 100s of the neighbor's ants, possibly one of the so-called field ants. I'll call them Formica parkwayii var: Cameronsantos for now. Despite our efforts to poison and dissuade their colony, they continue to pour out from under our neighbor's house, march down our driveway an on into the parkway jungle where they travel several houses down and climb trees in search of honeydew and sap. It wouldn't annoy except they climb onto me when I step out of the car at night, then wait until I'm comfy to bite me. And they stink mightily of ant.
Only 4 honeybees, Apis mellifera, were out perusing the rosemary, acacia and lavatera flowers when I was looking.
Ding ding ding! The adult butterflies were the stars of the count this year.
At least 3 separate cloudless sulfur, Phoebis sennae floated past my line of vision.
2 cabbage whites, Pieris rapae.
1 mourning cloak, Nymphalis antiopa, flew by in the top of the elm tree . . . hopefully laying eggs.
1 monarch, Danaus plexippus, seen flying and 1 that had recently eclosed under the cold-stressed leaf of the night blooming cereus.
Last but never least.
1 syrphid fly, Eupeodes sp. attracted to a basket
1 green bottle fly, Lucilia sericata resting on a leaf.
2 muscid flies of undisclosed persuasion doing what muscid flies do.
Slim pickings, like last year. It's ending up to be our driest year on record here, with no predictable rain in sight. Oh wait. The Old Farmers' Almanac sez:
DECEMBER 2013: temperature 54° (avg.); precipitation 2" (1" above avg. north, 0.5" below south); Dec 1-5: Rain, then sunny, cool; Dec 6-10: Heavy rain north, showers south; cool; Dec 11-15: Rainy periods, cold; Dec 16-21: Rainy periods, some heavy; cool; .
We, the plants, the birds and the buggies and the publishers of the Old Farmers Almanac can only hope.