Friday, October 4, 2019

Sept./Oct.Insect Programs in Maricopa, Gila and Santa Cruz County

Over the last 3 weeks I was invited to present programs about insects by the Butterfly Association of Maricopa County, held at the Glendale water Ranch, Oracle State Park and the Native Plant Society of Santa Cruz County (held at the Fire Station in Sonoita). All 3 audiences were very responsive and interested in my PowerPoint Presentation. While folks were inside listening to my talk, the lights outside were attracting local bugs to my sheet set up.

Glendale, photo Marceline Vanderwater
In all cases we ran the lights only from sunset to about 8 or 9 PM . There were interesting and very obvious differences, some surprised me. As I was busy answering questions and showing off the most popular bugs, I had little time to concentrate on small stuff or take many photos

Longhorn Beetle Plionoma suturalis
The Glendale black lighting spot was in the middle of the park, and I'm eternally grateful to my friend Kc Smith that he logged his heavy generator all the way in there. We were close to water but in the middle of thick mesquite trees. So we got lots of biomass in form of green stinkbugs and Bruchines (Bean and Pea Weevils) that came from the mesquite pods. all moths were tiny. We got a few Caddisflies as to be expected close to water. I was surprised to see a good number of the Cerambycid Plionoma at our lights. I have never seen them night active and attracted to lights before. I think they were Plionoma suturalis, though they were on the small, stout side for that species. I collected one specimen but it got lost in the shuffle of the take down.  The image above is from my files.

The old farmhouse in Oracle State Park was a lovely setting in the middle of a park at higher elevation with mixed Oak Mesquite habitat. At my arrival in the late afternoon I noticed that it seemed very dry and there were very few blooming perennials. Andrew Meeds had been searching for day-active  insects and found only a few. Numbers were really low. 

Agonoscelis puberula (African Cluster Bug)
Several people found and asked about African Cluster Bugs, so those invasives (harmless it seems) were common and obvious
Rhinoceros Beetle Xyloryctes thestalus
The evening  was a little windy and cool. At the lights we did not get a lot, But a number of Rhinoceros Beetles impressed and delighted. A single large, grey Epicauta sp Blister Beetle indicated that there would have been more if we had waited longer.

The Fire Station of Sonoita is surrounded by roiling grasslands that looked very dry, even the Desert Broom bushes that should be blooming by now, looked sad and straw-colored instead of juicy green. I loved watching a little herd of Pronghorns near by, but did not expect a lot from the black lights
And most of the attending people had not expected to stay far beyond 8 pm, so this was probably my shortest black lighting session ever.  And yet, it turned out surprisingly interesting

Megacyllene antennata, Oncideres rhodosticta (Mesquite Girdler), Scudderia mexicana (Mexican Bush Katydid) Stagmomantis sp. male, Curculio, Greater Anglewing Katydid, White-lined Sphinx, Lichen Moth, Noctuid, Spurthroat Grasshoppers, Oxygrylius ruginasus (Scarab Beetle)

Surprisingly no Digonthophagus  gazella at all. In other years at this time they covered the walls and the ground around lights in Sonoita. It seems that all invasive spp reach a peak and eventually crash.

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