Ryder Richards and I did a bedbug treatment, using Aprehend, for a small group of apartments in Calaveras County. One resident, a senior gentleman, slept on a cot. When we lifted the cot to treat, Ryder saw an accumulation of fluffy material adhering to the underside of the fabric. He realized it was probably a huge mass of bedbug shed skins. We’d not seen anything like this before.
In addition to the material on the underside of the fabric, when we turned the cot upright, a lot more of this material fell out from within the space created where the fabric wrapped around the metal tube framing.
We collected samples, and in the samples were live bedbugs. We froze the sample for a couple of days, and then did a microscopic investigation. Yes, this was nothing but bedbug material: shed skins of all stages of bedbugs, feces, dead bedbugs, and eggs.
The bedbugs had accumulated enough skins and feces to create a habitat that allowed them both harborage and a place to lay eggs. Essentially, their shed skins created a new habitat for them.
Service Tech Andrew Springer passed along a photo of some insects a customer in Valley Springs reported finding.
Dr. Lynn Kimsey of the UC David Bohart Museum of Entomology said they were winged webspinners (Embiidina) probably in the genus Oligotoma. They may be an exotic species that’s been spreading across northern California.
They are said to be mostly harmless, but often get confused with termites. They have an enlarged front tarsus, which contains the silk glands they use to spin their silken tubes under things. The customer observed that the webspinners come out at night, are lousy fliers, and are attracted to lights.
This species is an invasive, and found in California.
The webspinners in the photo would be males, as they are winged, while females are not.
Columbia Ca 6-22-21
Winged female thief ant. 3/8 inches long.
Dr. Philip Ward confirmed the ID. He pointed out that the taxonomy of thief ants (Solenopsis species in the erstwhile subgenus Diplorhoptrum) is in a rather unsatisfactory state. This queen could be called Solenopsis molesta, the most common North American species, but the boundaries of that species remain unclear.
This is a cynipid gall wasp.
June 1, 2021, Valley Springs, CA. Collected by FSPC technician Andrew springer. ID by Dr. Lynn Kimsey.
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.
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!