Monte Bello OSP Revisit

JO and I returned on 6/12/12 to see if we could refind the Pink Glowworms. On the hike that we do in early June, we had not seen any since 2009, when we saw more than 10.  On 6/8, KG, JH and I saw 2. Both were hanging from the edges of shallow depressions. I wanted to document that, since I didn’t do it on 6/8.

We started off at 7:49. It was warmer than it had been on Friday, around 70F. We came across some small red ants, which may have been the same army ants we saw in Oct. 2011 (Neivamyrmex). One larger black ant seemed in a hurry to get out of the area, but other harvesters along the trails were slow moving. Down the hill, a deer scratched itself.

Probably the same army ants (Neivamyrmex) that we saw in 10/11

There were many more darkling beetles this time (18+).

Song Sparrows sang at the sag pond, but the rail was silent. We examined a couple of scat piles along the way.

At 8:43, Western Screech-owl started with trills and barks, and I heard coyotes. An odd low three-note call came from the woods several times, but then a couple of planes went over and silenced whatever it was. It sounded like an owl, but it didn’t quite sound like a Great Horned Owl (which usually does more than three hoots, and produces them faster than this call).

A couple of banana slugs clung to the trail bank.

We got to our destination at 8:50, and checked the locations that we’d seen them at on Friday; they weren’t visible there. Then JO spotted one in a different place. It seemed also to be in a shallow depression, but was a little hard to see because of the grass.

After some photographing, I was about to take a turn but then noticed that the female had company!  The male moved somewhere, and the female had turned off her light and crawled someplace, maybe deeper into the depression.  I checked the trail to make sure there weren’t other critters around that might get stepped on, and saw another male looking around in another depression. Two others showed up while we watched the others and other small critters on the trail. The male has brown elytra and pinkish pronotum, and flies, unlike the larviform female. I looked at one close up, and saw that he had huge eyes, seemingly taking up his whole head. Since the female had turned off her light, I speculated that the males were attracted by her pheromones. JO checked around and found no others away from that area.

Male Pink Glowworm

It was around 65F later in the evening. We heard Barn Owl as we returned, and passed two large centipedes and a small round millipede. A few scorpions were visible under UV; we saw two species.

The young owls were still calling across the canyon. The sky was clear, and Scorpius was up.

You can see more photos here.

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Also see this paper for more: The Origin of Photic Behavior and the Evolution of Sexual Communication in Fireflies (Coleoptera: Elateroidea)

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