“Summertime visitors to Yosemite National Park miss many of the unique events of winter and early spring. Frazil ice flows are dramatic natural events that occur in the waterfalls of Yosemite Valley during March and April.”
Remembering a special hiking trip back in May 2006. CSR’s Kent Fothergill took a group of us to the Cotterel Mountains near Albion, Idaho. The kids were much smaller back then, but they still remember this hike. For our family, it was the beginning of a beautiful new friendship with plants. My husband had just recently started on with CSR and it was this trip that made our family truly aware of the plants around us. Sure, we were a very outdoorsy family who did lots of hiking and camping. But to see the world as a botanist, to learn how pick out the “good guys” from the “bad guys” (our family’s terms for native and invasive plants) was a whole new ballgame -and we’ve never looked back.
We are always learning something new about native plants and what an invasive species can do to the landscape. Our hiking trips take much longer now due to the stopping and discussion that comes when we see a patch of invasive species, or even better -straight from the 8yr old, “Wow, there’s hardly any “bad guys” here!” A love for native plants is something our family will always share, and I have Kent Fothergill and CSR to thank for that.
Once you go Native, there really is no other way.
CSR Social Media Director
“We had a pretty good day. Our team saw 43 species including: Barn Owls, Great Horned Owls, Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, a Merlin, a Dipper, several thousand European Starlings, and scads of Cedar Waxwings.” (some are pictured above)
There are numerous reasons to participate in the Christmas Bird Counts: fun, a little camaraderie, it is good to get out and stomp around, it helps bird conservation, and is the longest running bird data set of its size – who wouldn’t want to be part of that?
Kent’s next Christmas Bird Count will be the Jim Sage Mountain count.
Nearly the exact color of the flowers on the native plant, curlycup gumweed, this brilliant yellow Unid Beetle (Zonitis sayi) is in the blister beetle family. They are in the family Meloidae and they secrete a juice, cantharadin, from their joints. When cantharadins contact human skin it burns and in most cases, one will develop large, somewhat painful blisters. Sometimes they are brightly colored to warn you of the imminent danger that may result from handling them; however, many are not. A quick general rule is that the thorax is narrower than both the abdomen and head.
Several years ago in the mid-west, blister beetles were found in hay fed to horses and the beetles caused the deaths of several horses that consumed the blister beetle infested hay.
The next time you see a patch of curlytop gumweed along the road, stop and see if you can find one of these beauties. But remember to look -don’t touch- or you may develop painful blisters!
Taking part in National Moth Week of North America, the 1st annual black lighting event at the City of Rocks was held July 28, 2012. It was a celebration of moths (and other insects) and we were pleased to see several youngsters in attendance and having fun!
More than just moths came out to visit during the black light event:
Kelly Tindal, CSR Biologist- “When I was a child, my father showed me a small hole in the dirt and then stuck a piece of pine straw down in the hole and proceeded to say, “Doodlebug, Doodlebug, come out, come out – your house is on fire.” And then a prehistoric looking creature came out of the hole, it was an antlion.” (photos above)
As larvae, these insects live underground and wait for ants or other small insects to crawl over the hole. The insect above ground disturbs the dirt causing some to fall on top of the antlion larva in it’s hole. The antlion pops out of the hole and captures the prey. To check out a video of the larval behavior, click here.
Mantispids are cool because they look like a baby preying mantis, but with wings. They have the raptorial front legs of a preying mantis, but have membranous wings instead of leathery/parchment-like wings. Larvae are parasitic on eggs sacs of spiders. You can watch a video of the metamorphosis of a mantid fly by clicking on this link.
June bugs, dung beetles, chafers are all scarab beetles. This group has individuals that are the largest insects on the planet (although, the big guys aren’t found in Idaho). This was the prize of the night – a 10-lined June Beetle (Polyphylla decemlineata). See how the antennae look like little fans? This increases the surface area of the antenna so they can smell better! These little guys feed underground for several years and feed on foliage as adults. As a defense, if you touch them, they will expel all of the air out of it’s body, making a hissing sound.
A pretty neat fact about scarab beetles: scarabs are also responsible for the rising and setting of the sun, at least according to the ancient Egyptians. This myth stems from the dung beetle forming perfectly round balls of dung and rolling them. The Egyptians saw the sun as a perfectly round ball that was rolled from one side of the sky to the other.
These Nidulariaceae (Bird’s Nest Fungi) were photographed in the Picabo Idaho area.
“These odd and fascinating little fungi look for all the world like tiny birds’ nests. The fruiting bodies form little cuplike nests which contain spore-filled eggs. The nests are called “peridia” (“peridium” in the singular), and serve as splash cups; when raindrops strike the nest, the eggs (called “periodoles”) are projected into the air, and they latch onto twigs, branches, leaves, and so on. What exactly happens next is not completely clear, but eventually the spores are dispersed from the egg. They then germinate and create mycelia, which eventually hook up with other mycelia and produce more fruiting bodies.”
As the sun was setting and a big ol’ moon was rising, some of the CSR Biology Team and friends headed out for a twilight ride around Craters of the Moon National Monument. The night-blooming Mentzelia was there to greet them. The night was beautiful and quiet as they glided through the magnificent moon-lit landscape. Quite simply a wonderful and joyous celebration of one of Idaho’s treasures!
CSR research scientist, Kelly Tindall, and biologist, Kent Fothergill, were looking at big sage at the Hansen Bridge and noticed what looked like caterpillar poop on the sagebrush. This isn’t unusual – all animals poop and, as many hunters will tell you, poop is a good indicator that animal is using an area. The difference is that when they went to look for the caterpillars and the damage that they would cause, they couldn’t find any. Kent and Kelly were dealing with a warty leaf beetle. This species, Exema conspersa, happily munches away on sagebrush while the world sees it as a mere caterpillar poop. As Ted MacRae shares in his excellent blog, Beetles in the Bush, these animals are really amazing.
A little research turned up J.B. Karren’s 1966 “A Revision of the Genus Exema of America North of Mexico” in the Biodiversity Heritage Library which was essential for identifying these tiny insects. In the Smithsonian Digital Repository, B.D. Burks 1940 “Revision of the chalicid-flies of the tribe Chalcidini in America north of Mexico” lists little (1.5mm long) Exema conspersa as a host for the parasitic larvae of the chalcid wasp, Spilochalcis sanguineiventris. This little insect (Exema – not the wasp) has also been studied in determining how palatability influences growth rate in sagebrush.
It is an amazing world and there are really cool things happening all around us all the time!
Shrubby penstemon (Penstemon fruticosus)
On July 28th, 2012 CSR Biologists Kelly Tindall and Kent Fothergill will be hosting MOTH NIGHT at the City of Rocks National Reserve. This event is open to the public and will be at campsite 17 in the Smokey Mountain Campground after dark. See you there!
Why moths? With more than 10,000 species in North America alone, moths offer endless options for study, education, photography, and fun. Moths can be found everywhere from inner cities and suburban backyards, to the most wild and remote places. The diversity of moths is simply astounding. Their colors and patterns range from bright and dazzling, to so cryptic that they define camouflage. Moth shapes and sizes span the gamut, with some as small as a pinhead and others as large as a hand. Most moths are nocturnal and need to be sought at night to be seen, but others fly like butterflies during the day. Finding moths can be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark. Serious moth aficionados use special lights and baits to attract them. Popular interest in moths is rapidly growing, as noted by recent publications and web-based resources. The new Peterson Field Guide to the Moths by David Beadle and Seabrooke Leckie, moth caterpillar guides by David Wagner, and a vast number of moth-oriented Internet resources such as the “Moth Photographers Group” and “BugGuide” are just some examples of moth’s growing popularity. Moths are also featured widely in literature and art providing a different angle for enjoyment and study. “Moth Nights”are often held by nature groups, and provide an opportunity for either an introduction to the creatures, or a venue for more serious pursuits.
National Moth Week brings together everyone interested in moths to celebrate these amazing insects. This summer, groups and individuals from all the across the country will spend some time during National Moth Week looking for moths and sharing what they’ve found. Getting involved during National Moth Week is easy: attend a National Moth Night event, start an event, join friends and neighbors to check porch lights from time to time, set up a light and see what is in your own backyard, or read literature about moths, etc. nationalmothweek.org