About Jim

Plant ID

From Groveland, in an ornamental planting. Steve did not know what it was and wanted help with the ID.

The plant has a weak, licorice taste.




Bedbugs living between carpet and baseboard killed by Crossfire

We serviced a house that had a bedbug infestation. The mattress was infested, with lots of live bugs hiding in the mattress edge folds and under its labels. After removal of the mattresses, and preparation, we treated the room with Crossfire Insecticide. Upon inspection, one week later, we found that the floor area, where the head of the bed was against wall, had also been infested with bedbugs. They died in large numbers, as shown in the video.

Video by Ryder Richards and John Duarte. November 2020




Tree Squirrel Attacking a Japanese Maple

One or two tree squirrels were attacking a Japanese maple tree, chewing off small branches. There was little we could do, as the homeowners did not want to harm the squirrels.

Looking online, we find that this behavior of attacking and chewing off small branches of Japanese maples is common.

31 August 2020, Columbia Ca.






Western Fence Lizard Sitting on its Haunches

I saw these two western fence lizards in front of one of the offices (I see them all the time there), and one was sitting on its haunches, a position I’d not seen one take before. It gives the lizard a higher point of view to look for bugs to eat. I was lucky to get these pictures.

28 September 2020, near main office in Sonora, California.


Cropped and expanded image of the western fence lizards, with one sitting on its haunches

Cropped and expanded image of the western fence lizards, with one sitting on its haunches




Sherman spray valve

Our favorite weed gun, the Sherman valve, is no longer made. These brass valves fit comfortably in the hand and in the arm hang, were light weight and highly durable.

We are looking for an alternative. This VI valve would probably suffice, but it is not made as a free-standing valve, but is part of this 16″ LONG RANGE MISTING SPRAY GUN, an SG-2200. The gun would need to be adaptable to Spraying Systems nozzles.







Additional pictures:

California Horntail Wasp

Storey brought in this excellent specimen of a California Horntail. It was one and half inches long, dark blue to black, with a spot behind each eye. California horntails are the most commonly collected horntails in the state.

This species, Urocerus californicus, appears to prefer to lay its eggs in fire or wind-damaged fir, spruce, or, in California in particular, pine trees. The female inserts her long ovipositor into a crevice in the bark and when she finds the right spot, will actually drill into the heartwood, where she deposits her eggs.

The larvae are commonly said to feed on the heartwood, which struck me as peculiar, as I don’t see how they could digest it. So I dug deeper. Turns out that a researcher discovered that a species of horntail, Tremex fuscicornis,  in the Czech Republic, actually places spores of a symbiotic fungus, in with her eggs. The fungus is necessary for survival of the woodwasp larvae, and it’s clear that the larvae are feeding on the fungus that is feeding on the wood. So all that talk that woodwasp larvae eating the wood is wrong; they are eating the fungus and, presumably, its digestive byproducts. It’s a potentially slow process, as it can take 1-3 years for the larvae to reach the stage to pupate. By the way, that fungus is one you have probably seen growing out of dead trees. The woodwasps and the fungus have a nice symbiotic relationship.

Since that 2007 Czech publication, more work has come out to show that woodwasps live in an obligatory relationship with fungi.  A 2010 paper coauthored by Miroslav Kolarik (he is on this site in relation to foamy bark canker), specifically states “Siricid woodwasps live in obligatory nutritional symbiosis with fungi”.

15 October 2020. Shell Road area, Jamestown Ca.

Here is a link to the Bohart Museum page on horntail wasps.