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.
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.
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.
I found a nest of army ants while looking for ants, and more specimens of the unknown species of green lacewing, in the Gold Springs subdivision, in Columbia California, in Tuolumne County.
This was the first time I had found an actual nest of these ants, since seeing my first specimens decades ago in the Wards Creek Road area. These ants are rare, or at least hard to find. There are some photos showing where the nest was found, at the bottom of this post.
According to Dr. Philip Ward, “there are three species of Neivamyrmex in northern California (N. nigrescens, N. californicus, and N. opacithorax). They are active predominantly at night – and hence may be more common than we realize. These three species prey mostly on other ants and occasionally on termites. They are nomadic, that is to say, they do not have permanent nests. After they deplete their food supply in one area they move on. Army ants are now absent from most urban areas in California because they have been eliminated by the introduced Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). They are no match for this aggressive, introduced ant species.
Notice that these ants are almost blind; they have no eyes, except, as the literature says, a single eye facet. They don’t bite and they don’t sting. They are harmless and beneficial.
30 May 2019 Columbia CA
A customer, who lives in the Gold Springs subdivision in Columbia, brought in a specimen for identification. It turned out to be a debris-carrying green lacewing larva. The debris consisted mostly of dead ants. I found one bark beetle too, along with fibrous, stringy materials.
I sent the images to Dr. Lynn Kimsey of the Bohart Museum at UC Davis, who contacted Dr. Catherine Ann Tauber (aka Kady), an expert at green lacewings. She is probably the top authority on these insects, and wrote “A Systematic Review of the Genus Leucochrysa (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae) in the United States.“
Per request, I sent Kady the sample. She replied, saying “it definitely is in the green lacewing genus Leucochrysa (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae). This is a very large, mostly Neotropical genus, with two poorly defined subgenera. A total of only seven Leucochrysa species are reported from the USA. … and, at this point, your larva seems different from those of all of the known species.”
Dr. Tauber thinks it might be related to Leucochrysa nigrilabris, a South American species.
The ants were odorous house ants, with the identity of the ants confirmed by Dr. Philip Ward.
If you find one of these insects, please save it, alive if you can, and contact us at Foothill-Sierra Pest Control. More specimens are needed. These YouTube videos show similar debris-carrying lacewing larvae, to help you get an idea of what they look like. video1 video2 video3
Here are some images from the web. These insects can use a variety of materials for their camouflage.
Dr. Tauber cleared the specimen of the ants and took photos. A couple are attached, below.
Original post: 13 May 2019, Columbia Ca.
Below are images we took of the Columbia specimen.
This stuffed rat was on public display. Those are carpet beetles all over it. They are eating it. Notice, too, that the wooden base is being eaten up by powderpost beetles.
Carpet beetle attacks are common in biological samples that are not properly cared for, but this one was particularly noteworthy! You’d think they’d have noticed it. It sure makes for a hilarious photo.
Thanks to Bruce Badzik for sharing his find with us, and to Dr. Lynn Kimsey for bringing it to our attention.
Ryan McQuoid took these photos of a house invaded by houseflies, thousands upon thousands of houseflies, preparing to overwinter, in the Chinese Camp area, 26 October 2018.
Photos of the adults, showing wing venation, are at the bottom.
It appears the flies were entering by way of one of the two swamp coolers on the roof , and then spreading throughout the house, in “biblical numbers”. This residence was unoccupied, and had been for about two months, and was currently unoccupied. The owner had passed away two months prior. The houseflies are said to have started coming into the house in late September. The house is monitored by a caretaker every few days, and she noticed it suddenly had this huge influx of house flies, notifying us of the problem on 25 October 2018, the day before Ryan took these photos.
Both swamp coolers were dry, so moisture was not an attractant.
Ryan said that when he went on the roof and opened the swamp cooler panels, that hundreds and hundreds of flies poured out, hitting him in the face. Being there were no other points of entry for the flies, Ryan concluded that the swamp coolers were the place of entry. One of the two swamp coolers had hundreds of flies in it as well, but the access to the house had been sealed off with a sheet of foam insulation, apparently placed there by the previous resident.
We see seen housefly aggregations like this, but very rarely. It was a tradition for houseflies, in Columbia, years ago, to overwinter in the top section of a tower at a church. The flies would then come out, around Easter, and we’d get called in to treat and kill them. But I have not seen that in many years. I’d seen similar aggregations of syrphid flies at certain houses in Twain Harte, decades ago. This particular house fly infestation is maybe the worst (or best!) we have seen. The flies were coming in to overwinter. This was not a case of flies breeding inside the structure. The large number of dead flies is due, in my opinion, to the inability of the flies to enter and exit the house, in preparation for a permanent, so-to-speak, overwintering. Many, I think, needed the ability to get back outside, and then re-enter. But the flies could not get back out once they got in.
Ryan helped the caretaker place covers on the swamp coolers, prior to the treatment, to stop further fly entry. Thanks Ryan!!
This valley oak, in the Chinese Camp area, is showing signs of a possible canker rot infection. The bark is bursting in numerous locations on the main bole. Overall, the tree looks healthy, with new leaf growth, and fullness in foliage. The tree has extensive sapsucker holes. A small swimming pool was constructed nearby.
Dr. Swiecki states “In canker rots, the decay column extends out to the cambium in some places, causing a localized canker that can callus over, especially if the tree is otherwise vigorous. ”