Journal archives for August 2014

August 25, 2014

New Sphingid Species Added to SF County Thanks to iNaturalist

On July 30th, 2014, Tony Iwane and Taj Allen (of TREE FROG TREKS) were leading a photography-based summer camp group through Glen Canyon Park. One of the members of their group pointed out a large caterpillar up in the Arroyo Willow ( Salix lasiolepis ). Tony is part of the iNaturalist community and he posted it the larva shot later that day.
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/809991
We only have two Sphnix or "Hawkmoths" on the historic inventory for our small county: Manduca sexta ( Ames '73) and the widespread generalist that most folks see Hyles lineata - The White-lined Sphinx Moth ( Elennon '66). To me, it looked more like a lost Manduca or Tomato Worm ( which feed on Nightshade ) up in a tree. Kinda made no sense. I asked Tony if he could go back and collect it and pupate it out to the adult phase. He did.
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/841560
On August 21, a One-eyed Sphinx Moth ( Smerinthis cerisyi) emerged and this spectacular native was added a new piece of the biodiversity-rich Natural Areas of San Francisco. The larvae are primarily associated with Salicaceae but have been found on Rosaceae and Betulaceae. Another cool facto: the adults do not feed.
A shot-out to the power of iNaturalist. We still have so much to discover here.
Thanks Tony and Taj.
Ultimately, this was reported to the Year End Summary of the Lepidopterist's Society.
From Tony later:
"Awesome, thanks for all the help, Liam! Just want to say that we'd never have found it without our young camper Lucy Ghidossi, and that it was Taj who was sharp-eyed enough to find it again when we went to collect it. We've actually been in contact with Lucy and her mom and said we'd add her name on any sort of official record (along with ours, if that's cool) since she originally found it. Her mom has given permission for that."

Tony Iwane
Tree Frog Treks
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Posted on August 25, 2014 20:29 by robberfly robberfly | 1 comment | Leave a comment

August 17, 2014

Towards Sally Lightfoot

The Thicket Hairstreak ( Callophrys spinetorum ) has bullied me for years. Taunting me with emailings from people seasonally "Are you kidding? They were everywhere!" and "Go to this tree on this date in this month and they are there!" OK, the butterfly hasn't sent those emails, but No, they weren't there and, No, I haven't seen it yet...for twenty years. (I'm not quite sure the butterfly Hasn't been in on this.) I've been at this long enough to know all of us Naturalists have a Thicket Hairstreak in our lives and, no doubt, somewhere some pathetic soul longs to see...a Cabbage White...before they leave the Earth. If only someone would help them.
I'm annually reminded of this Missing Stamp in the Scott's Albums of my Natural Experiences in or around the Mount Diablo Butterfly Count. Paul Johnson or Kevin Hintsa would inevitably bring back a photograph of this quarter-size, chocolate brown Lycaenid with the white, postmedian zig-zag band above it's false eye. "Hmmm, still haven't seen that." One fact might be because I don't normally volunteer to go to it's habitat on these Count Days. The Thicket is a strong hill-topper that sits high up in trees near it's parasitic host: Western Dwarf Mistletoe ( Arceuthobium campylopodium). Males dart about on summits in a pheromone exchange of looking-for-babes. These "summits" ( at least on the Pinnacles Count and the Mount Diablo Count) are slight...death marches?...for this fair-skinned, Irish lepidopterist. So, in full disclosure, that might have something to do with...never seeing it. Or... perhaps...everything to do with it. ( See last Journal entry to see just how far I've overcome this barrier)
In Paul Shephard's book "The Tender Carnivore" he breaks the hunt - something he refers to as 'the venatic art'- into four parts: scanning (the knowledge of the animals habitats), stalking, immobilization and retrieval. Since I don't really collect anymore ( nothing against it, just sort of has been replaced by "iNaturalistmania") immobilization has become "please-for-the-love-of-Jesus-stay-still-for-one-shot" and retrieval is "don't let-me-have-come-all-the-friggin-way-up-here-for-Nothing-and-have-enough-water-and-Skittles-to-make-it-back" The retrieval...of me.
Shephard continues: " In all cases, however, men are engaged in more than a merely physical food-getting activity, for in hunting they are immersed in their most deeply held spiritual and aesthetic conceptions."
Yesterday, after years of this...knowledge gathering...I saw my first Thicket Hairstreak.
Up in a canopy of an Oak tree, below the radio towers, a lone one darted about with a flock of Gray Hairstreaks, hope springing eternal at each rendezvous the other would be a female. I stayed still and...it stayed still. Then, blink, it was gone.
I high-fived my hiking partner. Joy. Happiness. Staring down at the picture in my Powershot. Chug-a-lugged the Gatorade. Watched a haunting squadron of thousands
of dragonflies floating silently up and over this moment, making my victory seem small.
In " The Logbook of the Sea of Cortez", John Steinbeck wrote of the Sally Lightfoot crab ( Grapsus grapsus): "they seem to be able to run in all four directions at once; but more than this, perhaps because of their rapid reaction time, they appear to read the mind of their hunter. If you walk slowly, they move slowly. If you hurry, they hurry"

Posted on August 17, 2014 22:38 by robberfly robberfly | 16 observations | 4 comments | Leave a comment