|This marine blue was never mentioned in this post but|
she was posing so nicely that I couldn't resist!
One downside is the neighbourhood is very modern. That means that the flower beds are chocked full of distasteful garden shrubs and there is naught a weed to be found. There is a gully along the east side of the apartment complex boundary though which I scouted out today.
The gully is dried out from the summer heat but there are interesting weeds such as moss verbena and rose clover, the latter of which is frazzled into seed heads. At one location there is a lone stinknet growing, a plant which despite having not seen it before I somehow knew had the word "stink" in its name. I'll never know how I have such a knack for knowing things I've not even consciously seen in a field guide or in real life!
|Moss verbena, Verbena pulchella|
|Stinknet, Oncosiphon piluliferum.|
Thanks to the fact that this weed is native, it attracts several of the native Californian species too. On these plants I found some cool insects such as broken-backed bug, several dark-legged green aphids which look to be Uroleucon erigonense, an unusual Pissonotus sp., a gall fly in the genus Procecidochares, and one of the few easily recognizable Mordellids, Mordella hubbsi.
|Procecidochares sp., one of the most cumbersome names I've seen|
since Dicycla oo. Ok, that was a joke. The suggestion that
Dicycla oo is one of the more difficult scientific names, that is.
This 2.7mm lady was, unfortunately, actually a lady. In Hyperaspis that is usually bad news, because many species are only identifiable on males. In CA there are only two species in the fimbriolata group as my ladybug was, the widespread curved sigil (H. inflexa), and the seldom seen corona sigil (H. cincta). So either this was an amazing Hyperaspis, or it was not only an amazing Hyperaspis but one that had probably been seen alive by less than 10 people in the world.
|Look how small she is!!!|
As for the difference: the markings are wider on H. cincta than they are on H. inflexa. So what does that mean exactly? According to the almighty key, H. cincta has markings 1/2 of the elytral width, while other species have 1/3 or less. Sounds easy, but when I posed my ladybirds in a straight dorsal view it was clear the markings were intermediate between these two scales.
I spoke to Robert Gordon himself who thought there was likely more variation in these species than currently known. And given how minimally collected this species is I have to agree. The type specimen of this species is identical to all of my specimens,. For now I'm putting them to corona sigil, H. cincta. The most important evidence is that the type specimen of the corona sigil, that is the specimen that was originally referenced when describing the species, is identical to my series. One trait I have found is that the red markings on my specimens are distinctly toothed at the front. I have seen this so far in every cincta specimen, but I cannot find it on inflexa.
|putative corona sigil, Hyperaspis cincta.|
With one of California's most inconspicuous native ladybugs in what is virtually my backyard, no matter what species it turns out to be, I can only hope that this is just a fraction of the great things to come.