We had an unusual occurrence of velvety tree ants infesting a ceiling, inside a home, in the Sonora area. I have seen this type of infestation in the past, but it is rare, and we were able to document this case. Most commonly, it is pine tree ants, Liometopum luctuosum, that we see exhibiting this “nesting in the ceiling” behavior. But this one was velvety tree ants (confirmed by Dr. Philip Ward), and the velvety tree ants were there in large numbers.
Ron Walther reported that the ants were in the open beam ceiling, and were dropping larvae down onto the sofa and floor beneath.
After the application by technician Erik Brians, there were piles of dead and dying ants.
Horsehair worms, dead, in abundance, is something I see occasionally in melted snow, usually in tire track areas, in the meadow area of Bear Valley. Photo taken 20 June 2019. The snow was late to melt this year.
Panicle willowherb, Epilobium brachycarpum, is becoming more of a weed species to contend with. Glyphosate is typically not very effective on it.
Thanks to Scott Oneto for the ID.
Heather Nordstrom is chronicling the development of a western wood pewee nest on her front porch.
The first photos show the nest on 20 May 2019. They had hatched on, or before, the 15th of June, 2019.
24 June 2019: The nest fell off the ledge. Heather rounded up the chicks, and put up a box to hold the nest. The mother bird continued to care for her babies.
26 June 2019: Heather went to look in their nest and that scared the chicks, and they all fluttered out and landed on her porch. She rounded them up quickly and put them in the compost bucket. They flew out a few more times before they finally settled in and stayed. She had to turn off her porch light so that they would go to sleep.
28 June 2019: Heather reported that three of the babies flew into the woodland adjacent to her house, this day, and right before nightfall she heard a scrub jay eat one, she was pretty sure. she heard the jays squawking around that area and then she heard what sounded like a baby bird squawking. she went over there but couldn’t reach anything or walk into it because the vegetation was too dense. “Hopefully there are still two left out there. The fourth one would not leave the yard and would not get off the ground so I put it back in the nest for the night and I might just let it leave when it’s ready because the mom keeps feeding it.”
29 June 2019: Heather was out for the day, and when she got back, right before dark, “everything was quiet so I’m assuming the last one joined its family in the brush or got eaten.”
So it took about two weeks for the western wood pewees to grow up enough to fly away.
Heather Nordstrom took these photos of Chromosera cyanophylla, a beautiful and colorful mushroom. 6 June 2019, near Eagle Meadows (about 7500 feet elevation), Tuolumne County, Ca. Thanks to Jacob Pulk for the identification.
Here are photos from a difficult swallow exclusion job we did on a very tall building at Bear Valley. The swallows were nesting under the eaves at the top of this tall building. The exclusion was necessary, because the birds carried swallow bugs, that were entering the structure. We put up bird netting to block their access. David Katosic, Bill Breidenstein, and Josh Esposito were all involved in the project.
In addition to the exclusion, David Katosic used our power washer to clean the siding way up there.
Jason Price picked up a box wrench; well, it was actually his service truck tire that did. The wrench punched right into the tire, ruining it. That was an expensive wrench. 30 May 2019.