Saturday, May 21, 2005

In the hills near Idyllwild

Jerry and I drove about 100 miles to Idyllwild, just to check it out as a potential vacation cabin destination. (It was just so-so, but it was still a fun way to pass the day.) On the way home, I asked him to pull over so we could check out these purple-flowered shrubs, and we subsequently found out they were full of bugs!

I looked these up in my plant book when I got home. It's "Wooly Yerba Santa."

These are timemas, a kind of phasmid. The yerba plants were full of them, mostly in pairs on the undersides of the leaves. I had never seen this kind of insect before, so I brought a couple home in an empty water bottle.

Mystery larva, also found on the underside of the yerba leaf. It was an iridescent green.

Spider with prey

Mr. & Mrs. Timema relaxing at home. The male is on top, and even though they don't seem to be mating, they are inseperable. Both insects were sporting tiny little parasites (ticks?) which I later removed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Arrggh....the earwig!!!!

I had my Red Admiral caterpillars outside on the back patio, on their stinging nettle cuttings, the stems of which were immersed "boquet style" in a container of water. An earwig found his way onto the plant and attacked both caterpillars. He was still at the scene of the crime whem I was checking on the caterpillars this morning. One of them had already started to pupate. Dang.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Red Admiral update

Should have posted these a couple days ago, but I forgot!

Chrysalis. Notice the old skin with head and front legs.

Another Red Admiral caterpillar using its silk to roll up a leaf that it will live in.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Meanwhile, back in the jar...

The Red Admiral caterpillar is getting ready to make its chrysalis on the inside of the jar.

another view

I returned to the trail

After going with the kids last weekend, I couldn't resist going back to take a few more pictures and carefully (with chopsticks and a hand clipper) collecting a few more stinging nettle cuttings for the caterpillar I brought home the other day. When we were there on Sunday, there were other people on the trails, biking and even other high school insect collectors. Yesterday it was deserted. I find it to be a bit unnerving.

An impenetrable wall of weeds and wild plants. The city (or someone) planted lots of native plants last year. They have grown with a vengence. There are still plenty of invasive weeds, though.

A wall of thistles

Inhospitable to us bigger animals, but they turned out to be a veritable caterpillar condo.

Sheltered living in the prickly towers

In the toughness, beauty.

I'm still fascinted by the snails out there. One day, I'd like to get there early enough to see them all out moving around. (But I think it would be even scarier out there at dawn. There's coyotes and who knows what else.) This ping-pong ball siized snail is sleeping on a low-hanging branch in an elderberry tree, oblivious to the activities of all the much smaller critters nearby.

A few inches away, a ladybug. (why don't they paint VW's like this??)

In the name of science (projects)

Finally, last weekend, I took Brice and his friends to search for insects for their science projects. The collections are due this Friday. Typical kids, they have waited till the last minute to find their specimens. Brice does not have this project in his Bio class. He has simply "rented out" my services and come along to hassle his friends and catch bugs for them.

Brice, at right, goes into action as his friends watch.

The weeds are ridiculously high, full of prickly things and pollen that irritates my allergies. Pretty soon, the good bug finding will be over. The city might even mow all that stuff down. I think they do it every year or so. In the meantime, there were lots of caterpillars.

Unidentified caterpillar

I found out what stinging nettles are, the hard way. Red Admiral caterpillars like living in them.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Outside, looking in

Yesterday, I noticed this baby praying mantis on the outside of my kitchen window, so of course I had to take a picture of him. (note to self: must wash window!!!)
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