October 10, 2019

ID Guide 7: Eoreuma-Diatraea-Donacaula

From our recent Timberlake bioblitz, it was clear that we were (collectively) confusing at least three different Crambid genera which have elongate triangular cream-colored wings. We labeled images of apparently the same individuals or similar moths as Eoreuma, Diatraea, and Donacaula. I was getting quite confused so I went back to sources including MPG, BOLD, and BG (not assuming everything there was properly IDed) and here’s what I think I’ve figured out:

Eoreuma: FW outer margin fairly square and rather straight. Veins are pale, flanked by fine dark speckling. The “discal dot” is at the end of the FW cell. Five species have been recorded in Texas but by far the most common one is E. densellus which occurs in Central, South, and East Texas.

Diatraea: FW outer margin fairly square and rather straight. Veins are darker than ground color, flanked by pale strips inbetween. I’m not seeing any small dark speckling along the veins. Discal dot is at end of FW cell same as Eoreuma. The two most common species in Texas appear to be D. evanescens and D. lisetta both of which are primarily found in deep E Texas.
(D. lisetta has rows of brown spots across FW.)

Donacaula: FW is much more pointed with an angular acute tip. In most species/examples, there is a dark brown streak through the length of the FW. Discal dot is actually beyond the FW cell. Eight spp. recorded in Texas; most widespread is D. mellinellus.

Based on this review, I think I’m seeing primarily Eoreuma densellus among our Timberlake “catch”.

Posted on October 10, 2019 03:07 by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 3 comments | Leave a comment

August 30, 2019

ID Guide 6: Notes on Texas Petrophila Identification

In my previous post, I described an “Ah-hah!” moment I had recently with some of the Texas species of Petrophila (Lepidoptera: Crambidae). Before I settle in to write a longer dissertation on the identification of all the species in this genus in the U.S., I thought it might be beneficial at least to jot down some of my latest notes for the more local scene.

So once again, here is the array of purported species of Petrophila previously ascribed to Texas. I list the Hodges numbers and I’m giving some of them new common names for ease of communication:

Petrophila daemonalis (#4771), Devil’s River Petrophila
Petrophila cappsi (#4772), Capps’ Petrophila
Petrophila kearfottalis (#4773), Kearfott’s Petrophila*
Petrophila bifascialis (#4774), Two-banded Petrophila
Petrophila jaliscalis (#4775), Jalisco Petrophila
Petrophila confusalis (#4780), Confusing Petrophila*
Petrophila avernalis (#4781), Spring Petrophila
Petrophila cronialis (#4782), Crony Petrophila*
Petrophila longipennis (#4783), Long-winged Petrophila*
Petrophila schaefferalis (#4784), Schaeffer’s Petrophila
Petrophila heppneri (#4784.1), Heppner’s Petrophila

Below I describe the best field marks that I can find for each species along with notes on their range and occurrence (or non-occurrence) in Texas. I include a link either to the iNat species page or a particularly good example of each species. Abbreviations: FW = forewing, HW = hindwing, AM = antemedial, PM = postmedial.


This is one of the most recognizable Petrophila’s. It has the most extensive golden yellow color on both the FWs and HWs. In particular, the yellow on the HW goes all the way out to the row of submarginal black eyespots.
This species is primarily a Texas Hill Country specialist, being most frequently encountered near the rivers and streams draining the southern edge of the Edwards Plateau. But it has also been recorded in Hays and Comal Counties and there is an iNat record in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

This species has long been overlooked. The forewings are nearly identical to Two-banded Petrophila but the HW is distinctive in having a black line forming an open loop in the middle instead of a solid black blotch. I’m still working on how to separate those two species when only the FWs are visible. I had previously mistaken this species for Kearfott’s Petrophila, but that species has the two median orange bands on the FWs of equal width and has a dark line over the innermost black eyespots on the HW. Kearfott’s is rare in Texas, if it occurs here at all.
Originally described from Kerrville, Capp’s Petrophila is now known to range from the Devil’s River, across all of the Edwards Plateau, up through the DFW area into south-central Oklahoma. It thus overlaps broadly with Two-banded in Texas but it seems to be much less common.

When the HW is in good view, this species is easy to recognize by the sold black blotch in the middle of the white area. Otherwise, it looks a lot like Capps’ Petrophila. The brown/orange bands on either side of the median white line on the FWs are of different widths, the outer one being considerably narrower. That will distinguish this species from Kearfott’s but the two probably don’t overlap in range. Lange (1956) suggested that Two-banded might occasionally have an open loop on the HW, a rumor carried forward by Munroe (1972), but I can find no evidence that this is true. All such Petrophila's in Texas with an open loop are now identified as Capps' Petrophila.
Two-banded is probably the next most common Petrophila in Texas after Jalisco. It occurs in a broad band from Monterrey, Mexico, through south Texas, the Edwards Plateau, and up through north-central Texas into south-central Oklahoma. Curiously, it has not been found in East Texas; there is a significant gap in its range between Oklahoma/Texas and the rest of its widespread population in the northeast U.S.

Readily recognizable in most instances by the reddish brown or burnt orange color swatches on the FWs and HWs. Worn examples can look paler orange or even pink. The HW is extensively speckled in the middle with a narrow white band in front of the submarginal eyespots. There is no dark line over those eyespots.
Jalisco Petrophila is by far the most frequently encountered Petrophila in the Edwards Plateau and up to north-central Texas and into Oklahoma. There are small numbers of records just a bit east of I-35 but it doesn’t occur in East Texas. It ranges well down into Mexico, and westward across southern New Mexico, Arizona, and through much of California. Until recently, many online images and some barcoded specimens were erroneously labeled as “Petrophila santafealis” but I have cleared up that mess (Sexton, in press).

This is another species which has been confused in the literature and images. It has a conspicuous zigzag median white line and the PM area is usually the darkest area of the FW; it often shows a bold white-black-white dash or blotch in the middle of the PM area; the first of the two subapical white wedges is notably squiggly as it approaches the costal margin.. Compared to other similar species, all the white crosslines on the FW are crisp and bold. When the HW is visible, it is more easily recognized due to the presence of about 7 or 8 small submarginal eyespots rather than the 5 or 6 larger ones on most other species; the middle of the HW is grizzled gray nearly to the edge of the eyespots. Also, the HW has a continuous orange terminal line (usually alternating black and orange in most other species). The species has been confused with Long-winged and Crony Petrophila; online images are still not fully squared away.
Spring Petrophila ranges from Arizona and Colorado, south through New Mexico and the Trans-Pecos of Texas, thence into Mexico. An image in Knudson & Bordelon’s illustrated checklist for the Davis Mountains labeled “Petrophila cronialis” appears to be a standard Spring Petrophila.
I selected the common name “Spring Petrophila” as an adaptation of the Latin epithet “avernalis”. The species actually flies from February to September.

This species is grizzled dark gray-brown with little evidence of the underlying typical Petrophila pattern of bands and wedges, not unlike Long-winged, but smaller and darker than that species. The more basal of the two subapical white wedges is quite narrow and curves strongly towards the wing base as it approaches the costa. There is a small dark dusky discal loop in the middle of the PM area of the FW which shows up on most images. The HW margin has two alternating series of four small eyespots; the rest of the HW is fairly uniformly grizzled dark gray-brown with no white band in front of the marginal eyespots.
Schaeffer’s Petrophila has a broad range from southern California to west Texas (Trans-Pecos and High Plains) but is sparse everywhere.

After years of confusion with Feather-edged and Confusing Petrophila’s, we’ve only recently begun to recognize that Heppner’s Petrophila is the Texas regional representative of this set of closely-similar species. The color patches on the FWs are light yellow-orange. It is a fairly small species with a prominent zigzag medial white line, a dark spot on the outer middle edge of that white medial line, and an orange-filled, dusky oval loop in the middle of the PM area of the FW. The PM area of the HW is speckled dark gray brown. The series of big submarginal eyespots has an irregular line capping the innermost two or three, a mark absent on other Texas species.
Heppner’s Petrophila is now recognized as ranging widely from the western Edwards Plateau, up to North Texas, and as far southeast as College Station and Houston. It is likely to occur in adjacent areas of northeast Mexico, and may also range up into south-central Oklahoma. When you get up into the oak-hickory forests of northeastern Oklahoma, you’re into the range of a different regional representative of the group, Hodges’ (or Ozark) Petrophila. True Feather-edged Petrophila occurs mainly east of the Mississippi River, and Confused Petrophila is a West Coast species.


Munroe indicated that Kearfott’s Petrophila ranges into “western Texas” but after having clarified how to ID this and separate it from Capps’ Petrophila, I have found NO online images or reports of the species here. It can be recognized by: (a) wide, equal width orange bands on either side of the median white line on the FW, (b) whitish basal and PM area of the FW with little speckling, (c) HW has an open black loop in the middle (like Capps’) but also has a thin black line over some of the submarginal eyespots.
Kearfott’s Petrophila ranges from southern California, east to New Mexico and north through the Rocky Mountain region to Idaho and Montana. It may yet be found in the Trans-Pecos of Texas; I’d expect it to be present in McKittrick Canyon in Guadalupe Mountains NP.

This aptly named species is a member of the widespread “fulicalis-species group” which includes 5 or 6 species spread from coast to coast, but the ranges of most of them don’t overlap. There were a few reports of this species from Texas and adjacent Mexico, but we now know that those refer to our regional representative of the group, Heppner’s Petrophila. The whole set of species has extremely similar wing patterns and some may not even be specifically distinct.
Confusing Petrophila ranges from California north to British Columbia and east to Nevada, Idaho, and Montana.

[There are no good illustrations of confidently identified examples.]
A mysterious species which Munroe (1972, p. 129) indicated ranges from Nogales and the Huachuca Mts of Arizona south into Mexico. He did not illustrate either the adult nor the genitalia. The original illustration by Druce (1896) in Biologia Centrali-Americana looks at best like a generalized Petrophila and Munroe’s description is also pretty generic. This has left everyone guessing at what ought to be “Petrophila cronialis”. There is one BIN on BOLD Systems (BOLD:ADK0852) which has been labeled cronialis; all of the specimens are from Yavapai County, AZ, which also happens to be the type locality of a newly-described species P. anna (Solis & Tuskes 2018) which incidentally matches the old descriptions of cronialis. I suspect that P. anna will be found to be a synonym of P. cronialis.
As mentioned above, Knudson & Bordelon illustrate a specimen purporting to be P. cronialis in their Davis Mts illustrated checklist, but it appears to be a pretty typical Spring Petrophila.

http://v3.boldsystems.org/index.php/Public_BarcodeCluster?clusteruri=BOLD:AAH5276 (a series of unspread specimens in poor condition)
This is the other Petrophila which has a row of about 8 small black eyespots on the margin of the HW instead of the 5 or 6 larger ones. It shares this with Spring Petrophila (above). As implied by the English name I’ve provided, it is a giant in the genus with FWs as long as 15-16 mm in the female, a bit smaller in the male. The FWs are extensively grizzled gray-brown, obscuring most of the underlying typical Petrophila series of bands and wedges. The obscure medial white line is zigzag as in Spring Petrophila, but the more basal of the two white subapical wedges is quite thin, much narrower than the subterminal one, and it is usually concave basally. The HW has extensive gray grizzling, much finer than the speckling of many other Petrophila’s.
Knudson & Bordelon include it on their Texas checklist (Jan 2018 edition) but I have found no solid records of the species in Texas (none on iNat, BG, MPG, BOLD, SCAN, or GBIF). MPG and BOLD (BIN BOLD:AAH5276, but not AAI4817) have records of Long-winged only in Arizona.

Posted on August 30, 2019 18:56 by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 9 comments | Leave a comment

ID Guide 5: Petrophila Research

How did you spend the heat of the summer? Here's what's kept me off the street:

I’ve been deep into study of the genus in Petrophila (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) in Texas and far beyond for the past few months. The initial inspiration for the renewed study was to clarify the confusion over the Jalisco Petrophila (P. jaliscalis of Texas, Oklahoma, and westward to California) and the Florida endemic Santa Fe Petrophila (P. santafealis). That manuscript goes to print in September (Southern Lepidopteris' News), so I’m turning my attention to the rest of the genus. Encouraged by some of the reviewers of the previous manuscript, I’ll eventually take on an ID article for the whole genus. For the time being, I wanted to offer some fresh thoughts on the members of this genus occurring in Texas. I had a major breakthrough (breakdown?) today on some of the tougher ID challenges. Below are some of my newest ideas.

For starters: Here is the array of purported species of Petrophila previously ascribed to Texas. I list the Hodges numbers and I’m giving some of them new common names for ease of communication:

Petrophila daemonalis (#4771), Devil’s River Petrophila
Petrophila cappsi (#4772), Capps’ Petrophila
Petrophila kearfottalis (#4773), Kearfott’s Petrophila*
Petrophila bifascialis (#4774), Two-banded Petrophila
Petrophila jaliscalis (#4775), Jalisco Petrophila
Petrophila confusalis (#4780), Confusing Petrophila*
Petrophila avernalis (#4781), Spring Petrophila
Petrophila cronialis (#4782), Crony Petrophila*
Petrophila longipennis (#4783), Long-winged Petrophila*
Petrophila schaefferalis (#4784), Schaeffer’s Petrophila
Petrophila heppneri (#4784.1), Heppner’s Petrophila

* May not occur in Texas, despite earlier reports.

(P. bifascialis, P. kearfottalis, and P. cappsi)

Two-banded is quite common and widespread in much of Central Texas, ranging up into Oklahoma. It also occurs in the n.e. US. A key field mark for Two-banded is the solid black spot in the middle of the HW. For years now, I have been identifying similar moths which have an open loop as “Petrophila kearfottalis” but I had a nagging feeling that wasn’t quite right. There is an old suggestion (Lange 1956) that Two-banded can have an open loop on the HW; that would throw a real monkey wrench into all of this. At the same time, the mysterious Capps' Petrophila, which was originally described from Kerrville and which was described as having an open loop on the HW, was hiding in the wings unnoticed and unappreciated. A couple of lines of new evidence have come together over the past week: (a) I reviewed all of the barcodes for the genus Petrophila available on the BOLD Systems website. (Whew!) Among them is barcode index number (BIN) BOLD:ADB2794 which has several Oklahoma specimens identified as P. cappsi which look just like the stuff I’ve been identifying in Texas as P. kearfottalis. Something didn’t jive. (b) After all this review, I’d still never confidently identified a Two-banded with an open loop on the HW so I began to think, “What if Lange was wrong, and all those open-loop versions were actually something else?” So I poured over all the imagery I could get my hands on (iNat, BG, MPG, BOLD) and realized it all made perfect sense if I make the following simplifying ASSUMPTIONS:

1. There is NO version of Two-banded with an open loop on the HW, or if it exists, it is so rare that it can be ignored.
2. The open-loop Petrophila’s we’re seeing in CenTex that look like the P. cappsi identified in BOLD:ADB2794, *are in fact* Capps' Petrophila and NOT Kearfott's.
3. Assumption 2 clarified my confusion regarding the pseudo-Kearfott’s Petrophila’s that I’d been naming in Central Texas and allowed me to view true Kearfott’s for what it was: a species of the western US with distinct pattern elements very different from our Texas stuff.

Now all of a sudden, the skies lifted and it all became clear: Capps’ and Kearfott’s Petrophila are closely related geographic replacements within the genus. Each set of images within the now clarified ranges are very consistent and very recognizable. And although Munroe (1972, p. 121) states that Kearfott’s Petrophila ranges into western Texas, I haven’t found any examples of good-looking Kearfott’s in Texas yet.

In the next few days, I will be shaking up the Texas Petrophila world by re-identifying all the previous Kearfott’s as the once-hidden Capps' Petrophila. I also hope to pick out some way—any way—to discriminate between Two-banded and Capps’ when the HW isn’t visible. I’m working on that; I think I’m close.

Posted on August 30, 2019 04:56 by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 5 comments | Leave a comment

May 27, 2019

The Tidal Wave that is Crete Weed

Crete Weed (Hedypnois cretica; Asteraceae, Chicorieae) is a native of the Mediterranean region, widely adventive in the southwestern United States particularly centered on urban areas and disturbed roadsides.
It is spreading in dramatic fashion in Texas so I wanted to get some framework on the distribution of this species. I have briefly consulted several manuals and floras available to me to look back at the origin of the species in Texas and the U.S. I did a search on Google Scholar for relevant articles on Crete Weed, along with searches of the Biodiversity Heritage Library and the JSTOR digital library. I downloaded specimen data for the Univ. of Texas herbaria (42 specimens) and from the TORCH (Texas Oklahoma Regional Consortium of Herbaria) database (76 records including the aforementioned U.T. specimens). Thus far, I have been unable to access the database for the S. M. Tracy Herbarium at Texas A&M University which will undoubtedly document more important records.

It’s initial establishment in Texas appears to have been quite early at Corpus Christi. The earliest specimen in the Univ. of Texas herbaria is from Nueces County, collected in March 1917 by E. J. Palmer (TEX 7678). In their “Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas”, Correll & Johnston (1959) mention only that Crete Weed was “local on coquina beds at shoreline near Corpus Christi.” Fred Jones collected the species in the Corpus Christi area in the 1950s and 1960s. By the mid-1970s, Crete Weed was found “around Corpus Christi, w. of Portland, e. of Calallen, [and] Rockport” (Jones 1977). These localities are in Nueces and San Patricio counties. By 1987, the species had become established inland in Duval County.

The next regional establishment seems to have started in Austin County where Larry Brown collected the species in 1983-84*. I am not aware of the specific locality of the Brown specimens; the coordinates of specimens in the TORCH database refer to the geographic center of the county, but I suspect they may have been collected along the Interstate 10 corridor. It seems unexpected that the species would first be detected in a relatively rural county like Austin rather than in the adjacent urban center of Houston (Harris County). By 1990, Hatch et al. (1990) recited the species in their vegetational areas 2, 3, 4, and 6, which encompass coastal Texas, the Post Oak Savannah, Blackland Prairie, and South Texas Plains, but the county distribution within those regions is not delimited. Presumably the species had been documented from just a subset of the counties in the circumscribed area.

From the Austin County center, the species subsequently spread westward, being documented in Bastrop, Lee, and Travis counties in 1992, 1994, and 1996, respectively*. Bob O'Kennon found a first specimen for the Edwards Plateau in Gillespie County at Enchanted Rock in 1993. In the late 1990s, Diggs et al. (1999) recited only vegetational area 4 (Blackland Prairie) for North-central Texas (from Hatch et al. [1990]), indicating that the species “probably only [occurs] to the southeast of North-central Texas” (op. cit., p. 365). The species was first detected in the DFW metroplex in Fort Worth in 2001 and in Waco in 2004. From these various urban centers, the species has apparently continued to spread (or at least been detected) in adjacent counties.

Field work in the 1990s and 2000s established a number of new county records, documented by herbarium specimens*. Material in the several herbaria offer the following dates for earliest county records (TORCH database):

Nueces County (Corpus Christi), March 8, 1917 (TEX 7678; E.J Palmer)
Austin County (loc. uncertain), April 15, 1983 (BRIT 301633; Larry Brown)
Duval County (loc. uncertain), March 22, 1987 (BRIT 301732; Larry Brown)
Bastrop County (near McDade), April 18, 1992 (TEX 10539; Marshall Enquist)
Colorado County (near Columbus), April 16, 1993 (TEX 7677; Watson & Nesom)
Gillespie County (Enchanted Rock SNA), April 22, 1993 (BRIT; Bob O'Kennon 11390E)
Lee County (CR 696 nr Burleson Co. line), March 22, 1994 (BRIT 301735; Shanna Eddings)
Jasper County (TX 63 in Angelina Nat’l Forest), April 20, 1996 (TEX 39471; Guy Nesom)
Travis County (Austin), May 3, 1996 (TEX 32473; Carr & Turner)
San Patricio (Ingleside), March 17, 1998 (TEX 39472; Carr & Gallyoun)
Lavaca County (US 90A nr Ponton Cr.), March 26, 1998 (TEX 39469; Carner & Turner)
Tarrant County (loc. unk.), April 8, 2001 (BRIT 301739; John Karges)
Bexar County (San Antonio), March 19, 2002 (TEX 454232; Bill Carr)
McLennan County (Waco), April 13, 2004 (TEX 440140; W.C. Holmes)
Johnson County (loc. unk.), May 6, 2006 (BRIT 301734; Larry Brown)
Harris County (Barker Res.), April 10, 2007 (TEX 445276; D.J. Rosen et al.)
Bell County (Fort Hood), April 1, 2008 (TEX 431511; Laura Hansen; Hansen 2010)
Coryell County (Fort Hood), April 3, 2008 (TEX 431510; Laura Hansen; Hansen 2010)
Brooks County (Falfurias), April 20, 2009 (TEX 428575; Turner & Kos)
Burnet County (Marble Falls), March 30, 2011 (NY 1269355; D. E. Atha)
Williamson County (Brushy Creek Lake Park), Spring 2012 (iNaturalist; Ryan McDaniel)
Frio County (I-35 roadside park near Moore), May 29, 2013 (TEX 463517; Turner & Kos)
Atascosa County (I-37 nr Pleasanton), April 11, 2014 (TEX 468499; Bill Carr)
Midland County (Midland), April 4, 2018 (SEINet, iNaturalist; Nathan Taylor)

Atascosa County (I-37 nr Pleasanton), April 11, 2014 (TEX 468499; Bill Carr)
Austin County (loc. uncertain), April 15, 1983 (BRIT 301633; Larry Brown)
Bastrop County (near McDade), April 18, 1992 (TEX 10539; Marshall Enquist)
Bell County (Fort Hood), April 1, 2008 (TEX 431511; Laura Hansen; Hansen 2010)
Bexar County (San Antonio), March 19, 2002 (TEX 454232; Bill Carr)
Brooks County (Falfurias), April 20, 2009 (TEX 428575; Turner & Kos)
Burnet County (Marble Falls), March 30, 2011 (NY 1269355; D. E. Atha)
Colorado County (near Columbus), April 16, 1993 (TEX 7677; Watson & Nesom)
Coryell County (Fort Hood), April 3, 2008 (TEX 431510; Laura Hansen; Hansen 2010)
Duval County (loc. uncertain), March 22, 1987 (BRIT 301732; Larry Brown)
Frio County (I-35 roadside park near Moore), May 29, 2013 (TEX 463517; Turner & Kos)
Gillespie County (Enchanted Rock SNA), April 22, 1993 (BRIT; Bob O'Kennon 11390E)
Harris County (Barker Res.), April 10, 2007 (TEX 445276; D.J. Rosen et al.)
Jasper County (TX 63 in Angelina Nat’l Forest), April 20, 1996 (TEX 39471; Guy Nesom)
Johnson County (loc. unk.), May 6, 2006 (BRIT 301734; Larry Brown)
Lavaca County (US 90A nr Ponton Cr.), March 26, 1998 (TEX 39469; Carner & Turner)
Lee County (CR 696 nr Burleson Co. line), March 22, 1994 (BRIT 301735; Shanna Eddings)
McLennan County (Waco), April 13, 2004 (TEX 440140; W.C. Holmes)
Midland County (Midland), April 4, 2018 (SEINet, iNaturalist; Nathan Taylor)
Nueces County (Corpus Christi), March 8, 1917 (TEX 7678; E.J Palmer)
San Patricio (Ingleside), March 17, 1998 (TEX 39472; Carr & Gallyoun)
Tarrant County (loc. unk.), April 8, 2001 (BRIT 301739; John Karges)
Travis County (Austin), May 3, 1996 (TEX 32473; Carr & Turner)
Williamson County (Brushy Creek Lake Park), Spring 2012 (iNaturalist; Ryan McDaniel)

In the first published maps of the county distribution of the species, Turner et al. (2003) show the species occurring in 16 Texas counties with the bulk of the records in central Texas from Travis and Hays counties east to Waller County and south to Lavaca County. The complete list of counties in Turner et al. (2003) includes (bold = no records prior to 2003 in the above specimen list):
Austin, Bastrop, Burleson, Colorado, Duval, Fayette, Hays, Jasper, Lavaca, Lee, Nueces, Sabine, San Patricio, Tarrant, Travis, Waller.

The USDA PLANTS database (https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=HECR2, accessed 23 May 2019) shows the same distribution as Turner et al. (2003) with the addition of McLennan County. The Biota of North America’s “Floristic Synthesis of Northa America” (BONAP, http://bonap.net/MapGallery/County/Hedypnois%20cretica.png, accessed 23 May 2019) adds seven additional counties (total 23 counties), the new records including Gonzales County in central Texas as well as Walker, Montgomery, and Galveston Counties in southeast Texas. The records for these two databases are primarily from herbaria records and reports from NRCS field staff. Counties mapped in BONAP include (bold = not listed among specimen counties above nor in Turner et al., 2003):
Austin, Bastrop, Burleson, Colorado, Duval, Fayette, Galveston, Gonzales, Harris, Hays, Jasper, Johnson, Lavaca, Lee, McLennan, Montgomery, Nueces, Sabine, San Patricio, Tarrant, Travis, Walker, Waller.

With increased observer activity and photographic documentation available on iNaturalist, there has been a substantial increase in the mapped distribution of Crete Weed since 2012*.
Below is a list of the earliest records on iNaturalist for 41 counties (as of May 24, 2019; grouped chronologically).
Bold font indicates counties not previously reported in any of the above sources:

Tarrant County (Chapel Creek), January 1, 2012 (@andyk)
Travis County (Austin), April 9, 2012 (Chuck Sexton)
Williamson County (Brushy Creek Lake Park), Spring 2012 (@rymcdaniel)

Dallas County (Cedar Hill SP), February 22, 2016 (Sam Kieschnick)
Harris County (Houston), February 29, 2016 (Andy Newman)
Milam County (near Rockdale), March 17, 2016 (Linda Jo Conn)
Kendall County (Boerne), April 2, 2016 (Gerry Salmon)
Hays County (San Marcos), April 3, 2016 (Amanda Carroll)
Aransas County (Rockport), April 23, 2016 (Andy Newman)
Lee County (TX 21 near Lincoln), May 24, 2016 (Linda Jo Conn)

Fayette County (US 77 S of La Grange), February 21, 2017 (Eric Keith)
Parker County (Azle), April 16, 2017 (@andyk)
Burnet County (FM 1431 near Granite Shoals), April 16, 2017 (Chuck Sexton)
Fort Bend County (Brazos Bend SP), April 16, 2017 (@beversol)
Waller County (Brookshire), April 18, 2017 (Julie Pearce)

Nueces County (Corpus Christi), March 9, 2018 (Pop Charlie)
Galveston County (Galveston), March 10, 2018 (Kimberlie Sasan)
Bee County (Beeville), March 10, 2018 (Pop Charlie)
Midland County (Midland), March 28, 2018 (Nathan Taylor)
Denton County (Southlake), April 1, 2018 (Jan Lapine)
Kimble County (South Llano SP), April 4, 2018 (Chuck Sexton)
Llano County (Kingsland), April 13, 2018 (@sideoats)
Wilson County (near Elmendorf), April 12, 2018 (@dianahuntermeow)
Cooke County (Gainesville), April 20, 2018 (@awright1818)
Johnson County (Burleson), April 27, 2018 (Sam Kieschnick)
Ellis County (Midlothian), April 27, 2018 (Deborah Rayfield)
Kleberg County (Kingsville), May 10, 2018 (Sam Kieschnick)
Medina County (loc. obscured), May 24, 2018 (@ygg_huur)
Guadalupe County (S of Seguin), November 3, 2018 (@csbarnes)

Lavaca County (Moulton), February 10, 2019 (@cjack)
Comal County (Canyon Lake), February 11, 2019 (@zorkkanna)
Live Oak County (I-37 near Three Rivers), March 14, 2019 (Michael Price)
Goliad County (Coleto Park Rd), March 15, 2019 (@hiker912)
Blanco County (Johnson City), March 20, 2019 (@billarbon)
Karnes County (Kenedy), March 21, 2019 (@eromero)
Lampasas County (Kempner), March 27, 2019 (Sven Bowsher)

Gonzales County (Palmetto SP), March 28, 2019 (Chuck Sexton)
San Patricio County (L. Corpus Christi SP), March 28, 2019 (Chuck Sexton)
Burleson County (TX 21 near Old Dime Box), March 28, 2019 (Isaac Lord)
Brazos County (College Station), April 18, 2019 (Megan Kossa)
Jefferson County (near McFaddin Marsh NWR), April 27, 2019 (Carol Price)
Collin County (Jack Carter Park), April 28, 2019 (@fhhpschmitt)
Caldwell County (US 183 near Luling), May 8, 2019 (@athena0443)

With the addition of all the Research Grade iNaturalist observations list above, a total of 59 counties now have records (specimens or confirmed observations) of Crete Weed.

* * * * *

Other States:

The species seems to have first shown up in California in the late 19th Century. Munz & Keck (1959) describe the species as a “local but rather widely naturalized weed” but give no more specific details of its distribution at that time. Crete Weed was first documented in Arizona in 1968 in Tucson (Mason et al. 1986). By 1986 the species was “well established and … locally abundant in the area of the University of Arizona” (Mason et al. 1986). A first report for Florida appeared on iNaturalist Apirl 29, 2019 (Old Bainbridge Co. Park, Tallahasee, Lake Jackson Co.; @katyjohelm). A report from Louisiana in April 2019 on iNaturalist was misidentified but the species is almost surely present along a major transportation corridor like Interstate 10.

Origin and Manner of Spread:

The origin of Crete Weed in the United States may have had multiple sources. The array of localities in the species early establishment in California are “widely scattered” in the Central Valley, the Sierra Nevada foothills, the Coast Ranges, and urban areas of Southern California. Regarding its appearance in Sonoma County around 1900, Robbins (1940, p. 98) quotes a report by Eastwood (1900) that Crete Weed was established where “at one time a large garden [was] worked by the Italians. It was doubtless through them that the weed was introduced.” It is not inconceivable that European immigrants from the Mediterranean area brought the species with them—probably inadvertently—with agricultural crops. Hanson & Mason (1985) indicated that Crete Weed shows up occasionally in bird seed in Britain, but since bird seed in North America is locally sourced, this may not be a regular avenue of introduction here.

Virtually all reports of new locality records, at least in recent decades, remark that the species is noted in disturbed or mown roadsides, suggesting that transportation by vehicles or mowing equipment may the culprits for spread along such avenues. This theory may be bolstered by first county reports in such locations as Gillespie, Fort Bend, and Kimble counties where the species was first noted in state parks, locations which attract vehicle and RV traffic from far-flung locations. Movement of mowing equipment by city, county, and state highway maintenance crews would seem like another obvious source of seed transport.

Links to Further Information:

* IMPORTANT NOTE: All of this discussion of dispersal patterns and mechanisms is highly speculative since the timing and geographical array of new records is so heavily dependent on observer distribution and attention, aspects which are certainly not uniform nor exhaustive across the landscape.

* * * * *
Literature Cited

Aplaca, J. L. 2010. The Non-native Flora of Texas. M.S. thesis, Texas State Univ., San Marcos.

Bergman, C. M. 2017. The Vascular Flora of Lee County, Texas. Lundellia 20:60–114.

Correll, D. S. and M. C. Johnston. 1970. Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas. Texas Research Foundation, Renner. 1881 p.

Diggs, G. M., Jr., B. L. Lipscomb and R. J. O'Kennon. 1999. Shinners and Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North-central Texas. Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Ft. Worth. 1626 pp

Hannick, V. C., J. N. Mink, J. R. Singhurst, and W. C. Holmes. 2013. Annotated checklist of the vascular flora of McLennan County, Texas. Phytoneuron 2013-29:1-37.

Hanson, C. G. and J. L. Mason. 1985. Bird seed aliens in Britain. Watsonia 15:237-252.

Hatch, S. L, K. N. Gandhi, and L. E. Brown. 1990. Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Texas. Texas Agr. Exp. Station, College Station, TX. MP-1655. 158 p.

Jones, F. B. 1977. Flora of the Texas Coastal Bend, 2nd ed. Rob & Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation, Sinton, TX. 262 p.

Mason, C. T., Jr., R. K. Van Devender, and G.D. Starr. 1986. Notes on the Flora of Arizona VII. Desert Plants 8(1):38-40.

Munz, P. A., and D. D. Keck. 1959. A California Flora. Univ. of Calif. Press, Berkeley. 1681 p.

Robbins, W. W. 1940. Alien Plants Growing Without Cultivation in California. Univ. of Calif., Agr. Exper. Station, Berkeley. Bulletin 637.

Turner, B. L., H. Nichols, G. Denny and O. Doron. 2003. Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Texas. Two volumes. Sida Botanical Miscellany, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth. 888 pp.

USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. PLANTS Database. Searchable online database at https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=HECR2 [for Hedypnois cretica]. Accessed 23 May 2019.

Posted on May 27, 2019 20:16 by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 1 observations | 7 comments | Leave a comment

April 09, 2019

Shout Out to Jenny Odell, @jennitaur

I was just traveling home from a long trip today (4/9/19) and had the radio tuned into my local PBS station, listening to the PBS podcast "Think". It was an interview (recorded when?) with "artist and author Jenny Odell" who teaches at Stanford University. She was being interviewed by host Krys Boyd. The focus of the interview was basically on Jenny's book "How To Do Nothing", but relevant to the present venue, Jenny mentioned a couple of times her interest in birding and use of the iNaturalist app as part of her routine.

Great interview, @jennitaur. I hope some of you can find that interview/podcast online.

See also:


Posted on April 09, 2019 22:46 by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 4 comments | Leave a comment

March 18, 2019

Early Prairie Field Work

This past weekend (March 15-17), Mary Kay and I headed up to Northeast Texas to examine several native prairies and help on a work day at one of them. We are long-time prairie enthusiasts. Even at this early date in the growing season, there was plenty to perk our interest and remind us of just how rare and special all of Texas' native prairies are. Our itinerary included visits to:

Clymer Meadows ("West Tract"), Hunt Co.
Mary Talbot Prairie and Talbot Brothers Prairies, Bowie Co.
Daphne Prairie, Franklin Co.

I'll be uploading observations in the near future. This visit offered a good opportunity to encounter many species that were new to us and some I had been wanting to study including such things as:
Carolina Anemone, Anemone caroliniana. Fairly common in several prairies. (No Ten-petal found!)
Early Buttercup, Ranunculus fasciolaris
Prairie Groundsel, Packera plattensis
Both Tiny (Houstonia pusilla) and Southern Bluets (H. micrantha), growing side by side.
Flatwood Plum (Prunus umbellata)

We also studied (??) all the prairie grasses but of course it's the wrong time of year to learn these. This included such species as Long-spike Tridens, Silveus Dropseed, Florida Paspalum, etc., etc. Northeast Texas has had a very wet winter so the blooming season for everything ought to be awesome!

Despite the cold mornings (32-35F), I still managed to find 3 spp of moths and we saw a handful of butterflies. The best bird sightings included a Sora at Clymer Meadow and two Crested Caracara at Daphne Prairie. I was able to add to my Hunt, Franklin, and Bowie county bird lists a little bit.

We especially want to thank Kirsti Harms (Exec. Director, Native Prairie Assoc. of Texas) and Brandon Belcher (TNC Land Steward) for their guidance and expert knowledge. Here are some useful links:


Posted on March 18, 2019 19:38 by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 1 comments | Leave a comment

October 10, 2018

Wandering Around the Western U.S.

Just about two weeks ago, I arrived back home after a near month-long meander through the western United States. Every time I’ve sat down to write a brief summary of the trip, it quickly becomes a long-winded treatise reflecting my awe of all the geologic processes, biodiversity, and ecosystems I traversed. For the moment, I thought I’d just post a statistical digest of the adventure. I tried to upload a few observations from each day of the trip as they occurred, but uploads of the larger array of observations will necessarily appear over time.

Dates: August 29 to September 25 (28 days)
Miles: 6,500 miles in my vehicle, not including a 3-day chauffeured trip to the Oregon coast with friends.
States: 13

Focal destinations, roughly in chronological order:

Texas: Caprock Canyon SP
Colorado: Pawnee Nat. Grasslands
Wyoming: Grand Tetons Nat. Park
Idaho: Craters of the Moon Nat. Monument
Oregon: Wallowa Mts, Blue Mts, Northern Coast, Mt. Hood, Finley NWR, Malheur NWR
Washington: Mt. Saint Helens
Nevada: Sheldon NWR
California: US 395, Mt. Whitney, Manzanar, Ancient Bristlecone Pines, Owens Valley, Death Valley
Utah: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Capitol Reefs, Natural Bridges, Monument Valley
New Mexico: Very Large Array, Valley of Fires

Some of the above destinations were targeted, others were accidental. All offered special memories.

As might be expected from my pathway, my home was the southernmost and easternmost point on the entire journey (at about 30.42N, -97.76W). My northernmost location was near Morton, WA, just north of Mt. Saint Helens at 46.55N; my westernmost point was at the Boiler Bay State Wayside on the Oregon Coast at -124.07W. I took a few hikes up over 10,000 ft elevation (White Mts and Mount Whitney in California), maxing out probably on the Methuselah Walk among the Bristlecone Pines at about 10,300 ft. I stopped briefly at Badwater in Death Valley (-282 ft below sea level). I car-camped about half of the nights on the road, suffering through mornings as low as 26F (Sheldon NWR, NV). It got to 104F as I was exiting Death Valley on Sep. 21, but I was rarely in temperatures in the 90s anywhere except in Texas. There was some occasional light to moderate rain on the coastal side of the mountains in the Pacific Northwest, but nothing east of the Cascade-Sierra divide; I actually went about 5 or 6 days without seeing a cloud in e. Oregon, Nevada, and eastern California.

Having driven through Reno, Carson City, and Las Vegas, I probably passed within 10 miles of 90% of the entire population of Nevada. By contrast, traveling down US 395 and out through Death Valley in California kept me safely insulated from 98%+ of that state’s 40 million people…excepting tourists like myself. The densest humanity I found myself surrounded by was a 45-minute crawl through downtown Las Vegas on I-15. Parts of north-central Oregon (between the Cascades and Blue Mountains) are exceptionally unpopulated; at times, I’d drive for half an hour on rural Oregon highways without passing another vehicle. A singular goal of this adventure was to avoid freeways and busy highways as much as practical within the limits of my schedule. I measure that I drove about 796 mi of freeways in the entire 6,427-mile journey, or about 12.4% of the total miles; most of that was getting across Wyoming on I-80, through urban portions of Nevada, and in/around Portland, OR.

I got home with something over 4,000 images. For iNat purposes, I photographed a lot of plants (especially dominant trees and shrubs in various habitats), and tried to document just about any critters that presented themselves (except the bull Elk I nearly hit in pre-dawn darkness in New Mexico). With just a few exceptions, butterflies were pretty sparse at higher elevations and more northerly latitudes. I slaughtered untold numbers of butterflies and other insects coming back into Texas as it had been wet September in my absence. I did some blacklighting at 8 locations in 7 states and kept an eye out for moths at many gas stations and corner stores; most of the moths will be new to me and it will take weeks or months to ID them all and upload them. I encountered 9 species of junipers and 10 species of pines, documenting most of them as best I could. The most abundant flowers that I saw were always rabbitbrush, blooming along roadsides everywhere in the Great Basin and Pacific Northwest. I took the time to document the shrub now and then, only to find out later that there are probably 45 species of “rabbitbrush” (Chrysothamnus and Ericameria) in the western U.S. and I passed through the ranges of perhaps 30 of these. Maybe I’ve got good enough documentation to put a species name on a couple of them. Sigh…

The full array of observations from this trip can be examined in this batch which encompasses the inclusive dates from Aug. 29 to Setp. 25, 2018.
or from this TinyURL: http://tinyurl.com/y2r6vch6
This batch will of course be augmented over a period of months as I upload additional observations. (As of October 2019, the uploads were only complete for the above trip through about Sept. 1, 2018.)

Posted on October 10, 2018 01:53 by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 7 observations | 5 comments | Leave a comment

August 16, 2018

Tragic, Heart-breaking Coincidence

On August 15, I began uploading several images from Upper Trabuco Canyon in Orange County, CA. This task had long been on my “Do List”, just waiting for a good slide scanner which only recently arrived. Trabuco Canyon had been a favorite hiking destination of mine since childhood. In April-June 1974, as I was finishing my undergrad degree at U.C. Irvine, I visited Upper Trabuco Canyon several times, discovering many interesting plants, butterflies, and birds,
culminating in the documentation of nesting Spotted Owls on literally my last days in California before moving to Texas.

Fast forward to present day. I had heard in the news about the “Holy Fire” (which started at the mouth of Holy Jim Canyon, a tributary to Trabuco), but assumed it was confined to its namesake canyon. Now I find that on August 6, the first day of that fire and barely a week before I started my uploads, the Holy Fire actually burned through all of Upper Trabuco Canyon, precisely the area where my images from 44 years ago were obtained. I haven’t heard of a habitat damage assessment yet, but I fear for the health (and existence) of the groves of old-growth Bigcone Douglas-Fir that were a key feature on some of the higher slopes in that area.
I’ll be eager to hear more after they get that fire finally under control.

The fire was set by an arsonist; he has been arrested. I certainly understand (better than most observers) that fire is a natural part of Southern California ecosystems, but this was anything but “natural”. That person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but if convicted, I can think of no punishment that would be too severe, given the long-term ecological devastation he may have perpetrated. Time will tell. It won’t heal my soul.


Posted on August 16, 2018 23:28 by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 2 comments | Leave a comment

August 13, 2018

Is There Any Value In Old Records?

I recently acquired a nice slide scanner (Nikon CoolScan V) and have gotten busy organizing my thousands of old 35 mm slides to begin the arduous task of digitizing them. But to what end? For purposes of iNaturalist, is there any value in confirming that, in fact, a Northern Cardinal occurred in west Texas in May 1970,
or that a Stellar’s Jay visited my campsite in the Sierra Nevada in the summer of 1971,
or that a common species like Long-billed Curlew was present at a well-known migratory stopover site like Upper Newport Bay that Fall,

Frankly, with the equipment I had at the time (Minolta SRT-101 with 135mm telephoto) and my inexperience at photography, these are pretty crappy images of unsurprising subjects. Unless I get voted down, I will continue to scan and upload more natural history images from the past 40+ years of my outdoor life. Trust me, the images do get better in subsequent years, but I have to ask: Are these isolated old records of any value to any type of biological/ecological question?

Perhaps a few flowering dates or flight dates of butterflies will be of interest from an historical standpoint. I will have some uncommon and rare stuff to upload—for example, watch soon for some images of Blackpoll and Blackburnian Warbler that showed up in my yard in Southern California in the early 1970s. Those records, particularly the bird records, will have some value for documentation even though they have already been accepted and published in journals like American Birds, etc.

I don’t expect there will ever be masses of film and slide images uploaded from the pre-digital era. There certainly has been some accumulation of such efforts (e.g. from my pals @greglasley and @upupamartin, among others) but I have to wonder out loud if this is nothing more than a vanity exercise to put up earlier and earlier observations for the iNat database.

I face a long task ahead to do all this slide scanning (not to mention getting all my family photos digitized!) so I’ll work on this chore now and then as I’m inspired to do so and can find time inbetween real-time, present-day observations. Don’t be surprised to see me jumping around with observations from 2018 interspersed with blurry images from decades past.

And rest assured, my equipment and my skill level does improve (slightly) over time.


Posted on August 13, 2018 19:51 by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 5 comments | Leave a comment

June 12, 2018

A Transect in the Middle of Nowhere

It is axiomatic that iNaturalist observations haven’t blanketed the globe yet, although certain areas are well-covered. In Texas, it is evident that observers and their observations are concentrated around the many urban centers and the array of parks, preserves, and refuges scattered across the state. Where there are not substantial urban centers and few/no public lands, there are often large gaps in our coverage. This includes large swaths of the High Plains and Panhandle along with the wide open spaces in the Trans-Pecos. This is also the case even where there is public road access. Some long stretches of road just don’t get the attention they deserve.

Such is the case for Hudspeth County, sandwiched between El Paso and the popular destinations of Big Bend and the Guadalupe Mountains. For example, in all of this county, there are a total of just 234 observations of 134 species of flowering plants to date.
This compares to efforts in such areas as Travis (40,000 observations of 1,766 spp), Harris (36,000 observations of 2,000 spp), and Dallas Counties (22,000 observations of 1,216 spp). Most of the Hudspeth observations are concentrated along/near destinations on I-10 in the south (including the Indio Ranch Research Station*) and US 62/180 in the north of the county.
* https://www.utep.edu/indio/

Having noticed this big “doughnut hole” in observations as I prepared for my westward journey in early April, I made up my mind to add at least a few observations in the vast empty spaces of Hudspeth County. So on the morning of April 9, departing from the Davis Mountains, I chose to drive north on FM 1111 from Sierra Blanca, TX, to its junction with US 62/180. I accomplished an ad hoc roadside transect in the mid-section of this road, in mid-county, extending from—get your county map book out—Gunsight Road to Frederick Road. This 4.4-mi stretch of FM 1111 makes a beeline due north across arid desert flats with a few shallow desert washes—not a vacation destination by any means. Here are two images of habitats along the transect:

FM 1111 in Central Hudspeth Co.

FM 1111 in Central Hudspeth County

As can be seen in the images above, traffic on the road on that Monday morning was almost non-existent, so I drove slowly along and stopped at various spots to document plant diversity and look for any other available critters. The region was still in an extreme drought so flowering plants were hard to come by, but I made a point of documenting all the dominant woody species and succulents and photographed a small selection of hardy Spring wildflowers along the roadsides.

I spent just over one hour along that transect and documented a total of about 26 species of plants and 3 insects. The area will never be considered a hotspot of biological diversity, but now at least there will be a few dots on iNat in the middle of Hudspeth County. My uploads will follow this journal article shortly.

Posted on June 12, 2018 21:09 by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 3 comments | Leave a comment