Category Archives: nature|insects

After the Station Fire: Opportunistic Bumblebee

Bumblebee feeding on Turricula (Poodle-dog bush)

This bumblebee is doing its best to hold on and squeeze far enough into a Turricula blossom to slurp some nectar.

Other than rabbitbrush, there are not many food choices for bees in the Southern California mountains in the Fall, so they have to take advantage of what can be found.

Not much Turricula (Poodle-dog bush)* is blooming either, but it has been such a prolific fire-follower that here and there a plant is in flower.

*The taxonomic name for Turricula parryi (Poodle-dog bush) has changed to Eriodictyon parryi. The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California, Second Edition (2012) has returned Turricula to the genus Eriodictyon, as originally described by Gray. According to the Wikipedia entry for Turricula (April 11, 2012), “… molecular phylogenetic analysis carried out by Ferguson (1998) confirms that Turricula should be treated as a separate genus within a clade (Ferguson does not use the term “subfamily”) that includes Eriodictyon, and also the genera Nama and Wigandia; Eriodictyon is the genus to which Turricula is closest in molecular terms, and is its sister taxon.” I use “Turricula” and “Poodle-dog bush” interchangeably as a common name.

From Sunday’s Ten Miles – Four Peaks run in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Web Collector

Orb spider on rose snapdragon

It’s wonderful to be on a trail early in the morning. Like the dawn, footfalls are soft, and in the long shadows the cool edges of night remain.

But one of the tradeoffs of being first on a trail are the surprise face fulls of spider and web. On a run up Saddle Peak this June I must have swept 50 webs or more; all the time trying to duck under them, or at least catch them on my cap, whenever I glimpsed a silver thread.

Tiger Swallowtail on Snow Plant

A western tiger swallowtail butterfly feeding on the nectar of the flowers of snow plant.

Even though snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) is an unusual plant that does not contain chlorophyll and depends on a tree and a fungus for its nourishment, it still has flowers, and the flowers still have nectar.

This was the first time I’d seen any kind of insect feeding on its flowers.

From Sunday’s out & back run from Islip Saddle to Mt. Baden-Powell.

Some related posts: Snow Plant, Western Tiger Swallowtail