Friday, September 27, 2013

white sheet lighting ~ 09/27/13 ~ Rocky Creek

The first evening of our camping trip, I set up the sheet and battery-operated UV light under a thick cover of alder trees about 100 feet from Rocky Creek.  Remember, I borrowed this equipment from UC Berkeley's Essig Museum of Entomology last week.  I was intending to lure moths, but I primarily lured a handful of other interesting insects, like beetles, wasps, and crickets.  Specific IDs will be forthcoming as soon as I do a little research.

moths ~ 09/27/13 ~ Rocky Creek


I'll add the moth IDs at a later time.  Thanks to Pete at Essig, I borrowed Moths of Western North America by Jerry Powell and Paul Opler.  It's a spendy tome at $100 a pop, so I wanted to take a good look before I purchased.  I haven't had the patience to sit down with the hefty book, yet.  If anyone would like to help get the ID ball rolling, please comment.

camel cricket ~ 09/27/13 ~ Rocky Creek

This is my best guess. Until I started looking for this ID, I didn't know there were so many different kinds of camel crickets. Grasshopper and cricket ID is challenging to me, because there are multiple nymphal instars that don't always look like the adults. Lack of wings is never a reliable identifier, because it could simply be young. I really enjoy the winglike patterning on this one's femur (click to enlarge photo).

ichneumonid ~ 09/27/13 ~ Rocky Creek

likely Netelia sp.

Eh, you can tell I studied entomology 20 years ago by the names I still prefer to use. Apparently, it's now fashionable to call these wasps ichneumons, rather than ichneumonids, as you will find on Wikipedia and BugGuide linked in the ID above. Powell and Hogue state there are probably more than 1000 spp. of ichneumonid wasps in CA.  I've always loved the delicate grace of these wasps.  These and braconids were featured heavily in my Economic Entomology class, because they are easy examples of beneficial insects that parasitize other insects in a most spectacular fashion. Unfortunately, see that not-insignificant ovipositor?  Well, that apparently can deliver quite the sting. A look-alike ichneumonid wasp that does not sting is Ophion spp.

black burying beetle ~ 09/27/13 ~ Rocky Creek

Nicrophorus nigrita carrying Poecilochirus sp.

This sexton beetle, without the typical Halloween markings, was by far my favorite find. I love its bright orange antennal clubs. And, it brought hitchhiking friends to the blacklight party. I played around with the camera flash and a handheld flashlight. I'm pleased with the lighting results. The mites weren't too keen being in the spotlight and would crawl underneath the beetle if lit for too long. Despite the tall tale or two I told while camping, these mites do not feed on the beetle. Finding information online proved to be challenging. The Hilton Pond Center has a nice article on phoretic mites and carrion beetles in general.

ps - Graeme, I'm waiting for a good carrion/carry-on pun.