Thursday, October 29, 2009
During today's tour, I noticed a child was watching a small caterpillar on his finger. When I asked him where he found it, he said, "Right here", and pointed to the Ombu sprouts.
I told him to please put the caterpillar back, and he did, although he kept and eye on it for the remainder of his time under the tree. And so did I.
After the tour was over, I returned to the Ombu tree and searched until I found the caterpillar again. I broke off a little piece of branch, and carried him home on it. I also found 2 dessicated caterpillars on it, and a small spider who I suspect may have killed them. (I think the spider got lost somewhere in my car.) The caterpillar is currently on my kitchen table, his branch staying fresh in a container of water. Close inspection has revealed yet another, but slightly darker, live caterpillar that I had missed earlier. So I have 2 now.
They look to be some kind of geometer larvae. It would be nice to find out what kind. They are nice little moths.
In this case, it's for UC Riverside. They have an impressive website about Invasive Species. Here's a little blurb about them:
The Center for Invasive Species Research based on the University of California Riverside Campus provides a forward-looking approach to managing invasions in California by exotic pests and diseases. It is well recognized that inadvertent introductions of exotic insect pests, plant diseases, weeds, and other noxious organisms (e.g., exotic crabs and mussels) provides a major and continuing threat to California's agricultural, urban, and natural environments as well as the State's precious supplies of fresh water.
California acquires one new exotic species, on average, every 60 days. At this rate, around six new species establish in California each year. Estimated losses arising from the uncontrolled population growth of these pests amounts to an estimated $3 billion per annum. The problems caused by invasive species in California are likely to worsen as population growth continues and imports from an ever increasing diversity of countries accelerates. Read more
Thursday, October 22, 2009
There are several articles about it on the web. I chose this one to link to, because it has a little video of the spider, too.
My interest is piqued about the spider's food, something called beltian bodies, which grow on the leaves of some acacia trees. Ants are the main consumer of these beltian bodies. Now I need to see if I can find them on any of the acacia trees at the arboretum. (the beltian bodies, not the spider. It's native to Mexico and Central America)
Friday, October 16, 2009
Lucky me! I got to witness a Monarch caterpillar as it became a chrysalis, and I got it on video! Unfortunately, this was an impromptu thing, I had no tripod, so the focus kind of goes in and out, especially near the end when I got a little distracted because my son let the dog out and announced he was leaving for school. (I muted the video, so you don't hear my hollering!)
It's amazing when you think about this process of metamorphosis. Here is this creature (the caterpillar) who has been living in this body, and now after resting for about a day, the skin splits open and scrunches away, revealing the shell of its new body. And within that shell, the creature will liquify and re-form itself into the specifications that the new shell already suggests: wings, antennae, proboscis. A completely different creature than what it started out as. Yet, it's the same living being.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I found this tiny fence lizard on the retaining wall in our back yard this morning. He can't be more than a few weeks old. He was so cold and wet, he didn't even put up a struggle when I picked him up. I bet wherever he was sleeping last night got soaked in the rain, forcing him out onto the wall.
My original idea was just to keep him safe and warm till the rain cleared up. (It's supposed to be 80 again by tomorrow, up to 90 this weekend.) But what about the winter to come? He's so small and skinny. I worry he won't be able eat enough to build up a fat reserve to get him through the winter. I kind of want to keep him until spring.
Update, Friday, Oct. 16:
I guess he was in worse shape than I realized. The little guy died. I feel kinda sad, but I'm relieved I won't have to worry about him all winter now.
Friday, October 02, 2009
Green lynx eating a bee
King of the stem
Late season fruit beetles can still be found here and there.
Same spider, different day. Still there from last week to this. I guess she'll stay there as long as there are flowers to attract insects for her to eat.
They're ripe and beautiful at the arboretum right now, hanging like luscious holiday ornaments from the trees.
Unfortunately, too many of these fruits are left on the trees to split open and rot, or be eaten by critters.
I noticed some tiny leaf-footed bug nymphs inside this one. I wonder if their mom laid their eggs in a cracked and broken fruit so the little ones could pierce the juicy seeds without having to through the tough, leathery skin.
You can see some bigger leaf footed bugs on my neighbor's pomegranates here.