Erik Brians brought in these march flies. Sonora California, 22 April 2021.
Males and females.
This cone beetle, Phymatodes nitidus, is said to be important in helping giant sequoias in releasing seeds from their cones.
“The release of seed initiated by Phymatodes nitidus activity in the ovulate cones of the giant sequoia is of utmost importance from the standpoint of timing and point of release of seed from the tree. Cones damaged by this beetle will open after drying during the late summer and fall months, which, in effect, may lessen the exposure of the seed to lethal radiation and desiccation. Damaged cones will open several scales at a time over a period of six months to a year. Seed drop was also reported throughout the winter as evidenced by fresh fall on snow (Benner pers. comm.)”
This mutualistic relationship between the cone beetle and giant sequoias is discussed in The Unique Love Between A Sequoia, A Squirrel, And A Beetle. “This long horned wood boring beetle lays its eggs where the cone and scale meet. When the larvae hatch, they eat the flesh of the cone scales. Each cone scale has two layers of veins, which are often severed when the larvae eat their meal. Water can no longer reach the cone scales, so they dry up and release the seeds that they were holding in place. This is a perfect example of a mutualistic relationship, a special kind of symbiosis that benefits both partners in the relationship. The beetle larvae get a delicious food source, while the Sequoia tree gets help spreading its seeds before its cones get so old that the seeds lose viability, or before so many lichens grow on the cones and prevent the seeds from escaping.”
From a house in Dorrington, Calaveras County, California. That is adjacent to Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
1/4 inch long.
Thanks to Brady Richards, of California State University, Chico, for the ID.
This beautiful country home, located in the lower foothills, stands almost alone on an oak woodland, cattle country mega-ranchland estate.
Weed bugs (Arhyssus crassus) and house flies have been drawn to the attic of this house, apparently since it was built. The bugs would fly up into upper areas of the house, and enter the attic, in autumn, in order to over-winter. And it worked well, as attics are warm, and the house had good sun exposure, even in winter.
Come spring, the previously dormant insects would become active and attempt to leave. I am sure many managed it, but not all, as you can see. The large windows in the attic appear to have caused confusion for the weed bugs and house flies when it became time to leave. The windows allowed a lot of light into the attic, and the bugs, would fly and crawl to the predominate light sources. only to find glass there. Like bugs at a window, wanting to fly out, they could not, and they perished there, year after year.
Thousands of their dead and dried up bodies accumulated in piles at the base of the windows. Others simply perished and fell to the attic floor boards, scattered about. The piles were the largest, by far, at the bases of the windows.
Below are photos showing the attic windows, microscopic images of the weed bugs and house flies, and photos from within the attic.
Alexander Stewart took these photos of an extensive mast storage on the stucco siding of a house on Dyer Court in Groveland at Pine Mountain Lake. The picture shows the foam foundation forms with a layer of stucco that has thousands of holes drilled into it from the acorn woodpeckers.
Technician Andrew Springer turned over a rock and found an unusual ant colony. He collected specimens for us. They were pavement ants, Tetramorium immigrans. Not at all common in the foothills, we have found these ants, sporadically, over the last couple of decades. Thanks to Dr. Philip Ward for ID confirmation!