Our choice was the Coachella Valley Preserve, a bounty amidst the dry, barren stone of the desert. The waves of California fan palms were visible from a distance, and we had high hopes. Upon arriving I picked up an unusual katydid, Insara elegans ssp. consuetipes, surprisingly well camouflaged in the desert mesquite. Below it, a desert ironclad beetle, an unusual darkling-like critter that would rather play dead than release badly smelling chemicals. With a short note by the staff about the reserve we headed off through the arrowweed and fan palm and kept our eyes peeled for anything that moved. Or didn't, in the case of plants.
|California fan palm, Washingtonia filifera.|
|Insara elegans ssp. consuetipes, neither grasshopper nor cricket, but katydid.|
|Desert ironclad beetle, Asbolus verrucosus.|
The aptly named smoketree was of note in the dry wash areas, followed by Paiute dancer, the first damselfly of the trip. For me that was a much-needed break from my Argia resume, until now consisting solely of many hundreds of vivid dancers and naught else!
With time constraints gnawing at us, we picked up the pace. Canada spikesedge, Emory's indigo bush, sandpaper plant, alkali goldenbush were just a selection of interesting plants still showing at the reserve. With the sun beaming down the monotonous buzzing of citrus cicada quickly filled our eyes and in time others serenaded too, and indeed it became quite omnipresent. With some significant persistence I finally managed to get looks at one of these critters through the tangling spines and leaves of screwbean mesquite. Despite being large in size, these insects are quite difficult to observe.
|The easily overlooked Canada spikesedge, Eleocharis geniculata.|
|Smoketree, Psorothamnus spinosus, forms a large wispy tree.|
|Meanwhile the very closely related Emory's indigo bush, Psorothamnus emoryi, is a small|
herbaceous shrub that barely raises off the ground!
|Citrus cicada, Diceroprocta apache.|
|Rove beetle, Quedius explanatus.|
|Marsh slug, Deroceras laeve.|
On a coast live oak near the car I noted a series of unusual white..."things". Fortunate that these caught my eye, as they were actually a strange scale insect named Quernaspis quercus! Coast live oaks are common in this region, but never before have I seen these scale insects. Only one other photo existed before I found these ones! On nearby leaves, the jumping spider Colonus hesperus, and the stem gall Callirhytis quercussuttoni just added to the bounty of this foothill adventure.
|Mulberry whitefly, Tetraleurodes mori, on Frangula californica.|
|Western box elder bug, Boisea rubrolineata.|
|Scale insects, Quernaspis quercus, on coast live oak.|
|A jumping spider with no English name, Colonus hesperus.|
|Polyphagous shot hole borer, Euwallacea n-sp, a rather destructive pest.|
At Santa Anita Canyon the restrooms paid off again, with this exemplary Dichorda illustraria! After regrouping here we headed down the trail. With all 3 of us continually spotting interesting lifeforms, progress was much slower than it should have been! Tree spurge was a common introduced weed along the trailside, and a male of the white-banded crab spider was something I was waiting for find for quite some time. This gave me a long time to puzzle over its name, as there is nothing white-banded about any of the male or female forms. Turns out it is because of the white stripe over the eyes!
|White-banded crab spider, Misumenoides formosipes.|
|Arizona mantis, Stagmomantis limbata. Note the blue margin to the labrum, which is diagnostic of|
this particular species.
|Eusarca venosaria. This is the first time it has been photographed in the wild,|
but I doubt it is really that rare.
|California newt, Taricha torosa.|
|San Gabriel chestnut, Glyptostoma gabrielnse.|
|Slotted lancetooth, Haplotrema caelatum.|
Back in familiar territory I wished Jason good luck on the rest of his forays on the west coast, and settled in for the night. I could not thank Jason enough for his time, nor Cedric, for some very memorable autumn adventures!