What’s Bugging You?

JO, KS and I led a spider and insect hike at Skyline Ridge, starting from the Russian Ridge lot, on 5/28/11. We started at 10:00, and had 12 participants at max, including two 6-8 year-old kids. There were a few newbies. The sky was clear and it was a little warmer than on our prehike, but the breeze on the ridge was on the nippy side. The lot wasn’t full despite the footrace event (somehow, the same timing  happened last year), and two couples joined us late.

At the pond picnic tables, we swept the grass and found soldier beetles. We were there for a while, and continued on the lower trail past the nature center towards the restroom. Someone spotted an Ellychnia californica (California Glowworm) adult male on the ground; we’d seen one on the fence near the nature center on our scouting trip. Multiple ticks held onto the sign post–7 on our scouting hike. The poison oak by the bathroom had a lek of Adela septentrionella (fairy moths) bouncing over it.

Continuing uphill, the trashline weaver  that we’d seen on our scouting trip wasn’t apparent.

We turned right on the Ipiwa/Ridge Trail. We looked at a small solitary bee and a (probably) Woodland Cicada. Out in the grassland, we snagged a hovering fly. This seems to be a good year to see queen bumble bees looking for nest sites. A small click beetle performed for some people.

We had lunch at the bench around 12:30 or 1:00, and two couples had to leave. The kids were getting fidgety, so that family went ahead. We had an insect tool demo while we ate.

Turning up the hairpin turn near the overlook, it got more windy. It wasn’t as cold up there as it was on our scouting trip. We stopped at the oaks to look for Timema, an atypical walking stick, and found some. Along the trail, we crossed paths with a green and pink grasshopper, probably Painted Meadow Grasshopper. We caught a large queen Bombus vosnesenskii for people to see.

We proceeded down to the water tank and curved right. We didn’t come across the flying booklice or the caterpillars from the scouting hike. Sierra Dome spiders were around, as usual. I found the headless carcass of a darkling beetle, and we pondered whether it was the victim of a grasshopper mouse. Past the ranger station area heading downhill we stopped at the woodpile on the left for a quick check, but found nothing.

We headed to the nature center and with a few minutes to spare, those who wanted to check out the center did so, and some stayed with us for a little hike review.

Here are photos from our scouting trip.

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