Journal archives for March 2018

March 17, 2018

Notes on some local ants

Back in California I never paid much attention at all to ants, and I spent even less time photographing them, except in instances when I was out with somebody else who was very enthusiastic about ants. But in an effort to be a more complete naturalist, I've spent the last couple of weeks trying to be more mindful of these insects, and I've been quite surprised at just how many species I've been able to find so far.

Below are all of the unique ants I've found within about 5 miles of my home, mostly from around the vicinity of the Rillito River, Pantano Wash, and the Catalina foothills in northern Tucson. Most of these observations are from the late evenings, when the nocturnal ants begin to become active but there is still enough sunlight for photos.



  1. Pogonomyrmex sp. "red" group - potentially multiple spp. Common during the day
  2. Pogonomyrmex rugosus - Uncommon, mostly observed in the evening
  3. Novomessor sp. - Common, mostly active later in the evening
  4. Veromessor pergandei - I've only found one mound belonging to this species so far
  5. Myrmecocystus close to M. mendax - I've only found this species once, in the foothills
  6. Myrmecocystus close to M. mimicus - Fairly common
  7. Dorymyrmex "bicolor" - Very common, superficially resembling the previous sp. but larger and without ocelli
  8. ?Dorymyrmex ?insanus - I'm not sure about this ID yet for this species I've only encountered once
  9. Forelius sp. - Very small and probably easily overlooked, I have not encountered it often
  10. Pheidole sp. - Very small and easily overlooked, uncommon
  11. Brachymyrmex sp. - Common but very, very small, and never around a mound
  12. Camponotus sp. - I've only found one singular ant, under a wooden board
  13. Acromyrmex versicolor - I've found these only at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Posted on March 17, 2018 05:03 by psyllidhipster psyllidhipster | 2 comments | Leave a comment

March 22, 2018

Notes on the psyllid fauna of Texas and their host plants

Psyllid diversity in a region is correlated with the plant diversity in that region, and so one would assume that Texas, a state second only to California in floral diversity, would also be home to a large number of psyllid species. But while California leads the US with over 150 psyllid species, only about 30 psyllids are known from Texas.

One reason for this could be that plant genera such as Salix, Ceanothia, & Cercocarpus, which serve as hosts for a great many psyllid species, are most diverse west of Texas, and indeed known psyllid diversity increases from east to west in the US following these plants and others. So while a state like Alaska only has 30% of the vascular plant diversity of Texas, more psyllid species are reported from that state, largely in part due to three times as many Salix species occurring in Alaska than in Texas.

But another factor is that the psyllid fauna of states like Alaska, California, and other western states has been more extensively studied than the fauna of Texas. Furthermore, the psyllid fauna surrounding many of the state's largest cities in central or eastern Texas can probably be expected to differ slightly from the psyllid fauna of the southwestern parts of the state. I believe that as the state is more thoroughly studied, more psyllid species will be found there.

Following is a list of host plants and the psyllids associated with them that have been reported from Texas. Plants with an asterisk * denote hosts for which associated psyllids have not yet been photographed.

Western TX

Suaeda nigra - Craspedolepta suaedae (host mostly restricted to western TX e. to Del Rio. Look for abundant white cottony wax on plant)
*Rhus virens - Leurolophus vittatus (host e. to Austin)
Senegalia greggii - Aphalaroida pithecolobia
*Vachellia rigidula - Aphalaroida acaciae (host s. TX nw to Del Rio)
Salix exigua - Cacopsylla alba (host e. to Del Rio)
Celtis pallida - Leuronota maculata (host s. TX nw to Del Rio)
Baccharis spp. (salicina, salicifolia, pteroniodes) - Calinda spp.

Eastern TX inc. Austin

Ilex vomitoria - Gyropsylla ilecis (host from e. TX w. to around Austin. Look for leaf galls)
Citrus sp. - Diaphorina citri (introduced sp.)
Diospyros spp - Baeoalitriozus diospyri
Rhus copallinum - Calophya nigripennis

Widespread hosts

*Rumex sp. - Aphalara rumicis
Solidago sp. - Craspedolepta spp.
Celtis sp. - Pachypsylla celtidisgemma (look for bud galls), P. celtidismamma & P. celtidisasterisca & P. celtidisvesicula (leaf galls), P. celtidisinteneris (twig galls), P. venusta (petiole galls), Tetragonocephala flava (lerps on leaves). Note that adults of the leaf galling species cannot be ID'd from photos alone in this region, but the galls are distinct.
Prosopis sp. - Aphalaoida inermis, Heteropsylla texana. Note that P. glandulosa is the dominant Prosopis in TX
*Vachelia farnesiana - Heteropsylla mimosae
Amorpha fruticosa - Amorphicola amorphae
Ratibida columnifera, Rudbeckia (hirta?) - Bactericera antennata (look for galls on leaves)
Salix nigra, S. goodinggii - Bactericera minuta
Solanaceae spp. - Bactericera cockerelli

Some potential plants worth checking:

Rhus spp. are host plants for many psyllids in the genus Calophya throughout the US, but strangely no Calophya have been reported in the literature from Texas. However, they most definitely do occur in the state, as proven by this observation. Rhus aromatica is a widespread host with a lot of psyllid potential, and several other Rhus spp. are also probably worth checking.
Dermatophyllum (=Sophora) secundiflorum - a nymph was observed on this host in Austin - this may represent a new species.
Mimosa sp. - John Schneider found Heteropsylla huasachae on an unspecified Mimosa sp. near Houston. That species is also known from a number of other Mimosoid legumes.
Fabaceae in general - Purely speculative on my part, but I suspect that Mimosoid and Caesalpinioid legumes, especially near the sourthern border of the state, may be hosts for a number of unreported species.
Posted on March 22, 2018 00:52 by psyllidhipster psyllidhipster | 2 comments | Leave a comment

March 28, 2018

Psyllids on Ceanothus cultivars in urban areas

Previously, Ceanothus psyllids have primarily been recorded from naturally-occurring Ceanothus in native chaparral and woodland habitats. Today, I observed for the first time a psyllid on a Ceanothus cultivar in a mostly urban habitat in Los Angeles county where Ceanothus does not grow naturally. Previous searches led me to incorrectly believe that psyllids were unlikely to be encountered in such situations.

Ceanothus psyllids are very diverse, especially in California, with over a dozen species in three genera. The psyllid I observed today was a nymph so further identification is unfortunately not possible. I'm interested in hopefully figuring out which species are taking advantage of such conditions.

Posted on March 28, 2018 23:53 by psyllidhipster psyllidhipster | 0 comments | Leave a comment