September 16, 2020

WANTED! Bramble observations in Fall/Winter

Hey friends! As the weather starts to cool down I'm sure you will all be out and making more observations in the next couple of months. I have a favor to ask...

Fall isn't the usual time for Brambles to be observed, but that's what makes this the perfect time! I'm on the hunt for a particular blackberry/dewberry bush that is very green right now, when all the others are starting to turn brown. So, if you happen to notice a healthy looking blackberry bush, it's worth documenting!

Here are some key characteristics to look for:

  • Upright, not laying on the ground (typically over 3 feet tall)
  • Leaflets are wider and rounder than what we usually see. Leaves could have 3 or 5 leaflets.
  • The underside of the leaves are whitish, not green like on the top.

If you think you have found one that fits the description, take photos like you usually would, but include a photo of the whole plant and especially one of the back of the leaves. Bonus love for anyone that also wants to photograph the thorns on the lowest part of the main stems and the stem of any spent flowers still attached. (Examples below.) And please tag me!

Bonus love for these extras!

So you might be asking, "What's this all about?" (Or maybe not. If you're like me, you love a scavenger hunt no matter what it's for! Except car keys. SIGH.) Well, if you've been following my posts on Rubus species in Texas, you could probably win Bramble Trivia Night if you recall that we have 3 common species in Texas and 2 much less common species. I'm looking for observations of the "much less common" species. Since they are robust plants this time of year, it's much easier to spot them now than in the spring when all the others are in bloom, too.

Thanks for keeping your eyes open! And beware of the thorns...

Posted on September 16, 2020 19:57 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 20 comments | Leave a comment

July 18, 2020

Rambling thoughts: 100 Degrees of Nature

Depending on where you live, you may not have the pleasure of sweating through day after day of near 100-degree temps as we are in DFW. This morning I went out from 8:30am-10:30am and came home drenched, despite staying in the shade 80% of the time. I wish we had a pool, but since we don't, I keep on keepin' on with nature.

It seems like I've been busier than usual lately. I enjoy having "projects" to learn from, and I've get several going at the moment, which you have probably noticed if you are following my observations. I'm in the middle of photographing Hackberry Galls for a "reference" point of what we see in the field versus what Gagne described and photographed in 2013.

I've also been learning about and rearing leafminers to document life-cycles, which I always find interesting. These micromoths and flies are tricky though. I seem to be documenting more parasitoid wasps instead. Oh well! Still interesting!

I've really struggled with the Bluebird monitoring this year. Just as I got all the boxes prepped for the season and volunteers ready to help, COVID19 pulled the rug out from under us. Instead of being able to check the boxes every 3-4 days with the help of 4 resident volunteers, I'm doing good if I can make it by all 50 boxes once a week on my own. I've also had a record breaking year of fledglings, too! 195 so far and another 60 growing big and strong. If not for being able to see those sweet little faces from hatching to adolescence, I'd have given up a long time ago!

And today kicks off National Moth Week! Wooohooo!! I'm much more excited than I have energy for at the moment, though. I'll put out my mothing gear tomorrow and hopefully get to see some very-very-very-missed friends at a covid-minded gathering at the end of the week. A couple of moths ago I joined a project to collect some particular micromoths that will hopefully help the microlepidoptera research community on some gaps and unknown species. I've been slacking on that and I'm looking forward to seeing what's new at the light since I put it out last.

If you hung in there with me this long, tell me what iNat-ish stuff you've been up to lately! I miss seeing my IRL iNatters so much!! Stay cool...

Posted on July 18, 2020 01:27 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 4 comments | Leave a comment

May 29, 2020

Clustered midrib gall on Post Oak

I have been wondering (for four long years) about the ID of a particular gall which has come to be known as the Clustered Midrib Gall. After some amazing collaboration between @megachile, @mileszhang, and myself we have finally solved the mystery!

There is quite a history to this gall, so this post is to record the abbreviated details for future reference.

The gall was first described by itself (without the larva or adult fly) from a Post Oak in 1862 by Osten Sacken. (Osten Sacken, 1862)

In 1887 Ashmead described a new wingless fly and erroneously thought the gall is the one Osten Sacken had described. He published that as Acraspis vaccinii (which later becomes Zopheroteras vaccinii), using Osten Sacken's description of the gall. (Ashmead, 1887)

In 1913 Beutenmuller described a new winged fly without the gall as Andricus lustrans. (Beutenmuller, 1913)

In 1918 Beutenmuller described a new winged fly and gall, which he named Andricus impositus, and even commented that he first thought it was Z. vaccinii but the fly did not match even though the gall did. (Beutenmueller, 1918)

In 1927, Weld figured out that the winged A. impositus fly is the same as the winged A. lustrans fly and described Callirhytis lustrans, the winged fly and the correct gall. In addition, he commented on 1) Ashmead's error, 2) the A. lustrans and A. impositus flies being the same species, as well as 3) Kinsey's Andricus dimorphus var. verifactor fly. (Weld, 1927)

Today, the current accepted name is Callirhytis vaccinii (Ashmead). (Krombein, 1979)

Zopheroterus vaccinii is the accepted name for the unrelated wingless fly and the correct gall it came from.

Weld points out that he found the same looking gall on Quercus breviloba in Austin and Boerne, Tex. Kinsey also reports the galls on Q. breviloba in Leander and Austin, Tex.

Weld's 1927 description of the Callirhytis lustrans gall is the most recent and accurate, and is transcribed here:

Callirhytis lustrans (BEUTENMUELLER)

Andricus lustrans BEUTENMUELLER, Trans. Amer. Ent. Soc. vol. 39, 1913. p. 244.
Andricus impositus BEUTENMUELLER, Ent. News, vol. 29, 1918, p. 329.
Andricus dimorphus verifactor KINSEY, Indiana Univ. Studies 53, 1922, p. 15.
Acraspis vaccinii (gall only), ASHMEAD, Trans. Amer. Ent. Soc., vol. 14, 1887, p. 136.

Lustrans was described from two adults captured at Austin, Texas, gall and host unknown. One of these specimens was given in 1921 to the writer, who recognized its close relation to impositus. Lustrans is described as without a median groove, but this specimen in certain positions shows a faint median line, while the groove in some of the many available parataypes of impositus is fully as faintly defined. The writer is unable to separate paratypes of verifactor from lustrans. The gall of this species was first described by Osten Sacken in 1862, but Ashmead was evidently in error in thinking he had reared it in 1887, associating the wingless fly he reared with the wrong gall. These galls occur as midrib clusters on under side of leaves of Quercus stellata in the fall, dropping when mature. When fresh the individual galls are shaped like huckleberry flowers, somewhat cylindrical with the end distinctly truncate and depressed, but during the winter on the ground they become globular except for a short pedicel, and the depressed end becomes a flattened circular scar at apex with a slightly raised rim, and the greenish or reddish color changes to brown.

Beutenmueller sent the writer galls from New York City which contained pupae on November 1 and adults on November 25 (age of galls unknown). The writer collected galls at Poplar Bluff and Ironton, Mo.; Wharton, Trinity, Arlington, and Boerne, Tex.; Hugo, Okla. At Hugo they were just starting to develop on July 25. Galls collected in October, 1917, at Trinity, Tex., gave two adults May 18, 1919. In galls collected at Ironton in fall of 1917 pupae were found in October, 1918, and in March, 1919, flies emerging before May 12, 1919. S. A. Rohwer collected galls at Ironton in October, 1918, and reared adults April 9-16, 1919, and a few more were found dead in cage May 12, 1920 (Hopkins U. S. No. 10777j).

A precisely similar gall on the shin oak, Q. breviloba, was seen at Austin and Boerne, Tex., and may prove to be that of this species.

Illustration (Beutenmuller, 1909)


Ashmead, William H., "On the Cynipidous Galls of Florida, with Descriptions of New Species and Synopses of the Described Species of North America" (1887)

Beutenmuller, William, "The Species of Biorhiza, Philonix and Allied Genera, and Their Galls" (1909)

Beutenmuller, William, "Descriptions of New Cynipidae" (1913)

Beutenmuller, William, "Notes on Cynipidae, with Descriptions of a New Species (Hym.)" (1918)

Kinsey, Alfred C., "Studies of Some New and Described Cynipidae (Hymenoptera)" (1922)

Krombein, Karl V., "Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico" (1979)

Osten Sacken, Baron R., "Additions and Corrections to the paper entitled: 'On the Cynipidae of the North American Oaks and their Galls'” (1862)

Weld, Lewis H., "Field Notes on Gall-inhabiting Cynipid Wasps with Descriptions of New Species" (1927)

Posted on May 29, 2020 05:57 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 2 comments | Leave a comment

May 07, 2020

1,000+ species documented in my suburban yard

Woohoo! I finally reached 1,000 species (wild, no cultivars counted) in my .25 acre suburban yard. Well, a lot of that is house, but I count those inside creatures, too! It took me 3.5 years, which I don't think is much at all! Mothing... that's definitely the biggest boost.

Posted on May 07, 2020 02:48 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 5 comments | Leave a comment

May 04, 2020

CNC Superheroes!

I'm so proud of everyone that contributed to the CNC this year, even if it was only 10 observations! I learn so much every year: quantity vs. quality tricks, where to go to see a wider variety of organisms, photography techniques, ways to differentiate similar species, talking with experts (academic and hobbyist,) and places I want to visit that have some things I've never seen before. More than that, though, I find new-to-me species (50 this year!) and join in being a part of something really big for nature.

After the physical 4 day challenge is over, we turn to the mental 6-day challenge of trying to ID things. It's tough to put yourself out there and risk being wrong, and even more so when you are making IDs for other people's observations.

This year I didn't ID as much as I wanted to, but I have to give a HUGE SHOUT OUT to a couple of folks that really outdid themselves!
@connlindajo made 9,822 IDs for observations all over Texas. That's incredible!
@kalamurphyking made 8,483 IDs for the DFW area. WOW!
@kathrynwells333 made 7, 260 IDs for the DFW area. Awesome job!
You guys deserve to be recognized just as much as those who took photos.
There were 845 people that contributed IDs in the DFW area! There are many more people that IDs thousands of observations, and you can see them all here:

I also want to thank those folks that helped new users by putting in broad IDs (plant, insect, etc) and commented on how they can improve their chances of getting an ID. I hope a bunch of folks will stick around after the CNC and see how great this community is!

I hope your CNC experience was great, especially in light of the COVID19 restrictions, and I look forward to having extra BioBlitzes the rest of the year to make up for it! Right?!

iNaturally yours,
Kimberlie 😄

Posted on May 04, 2020 16:42 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 6 comments | Leave a comment

April 26, 2020

How YOU can help new users stick around after the CNC

We've got a ton of new users joining because of the CNC, and it would be great if they kept it up after the event. Here's how you can help! If everyone could just take a few minutes each time you finish your uploads, that would be SO GREAT!

Welcoming New Users
If you see someone with less than 50 observations, leave them a welcome note! Just say HI or tell them to tag you (OR ME!!) if they need help by including @kimberlietx in their observation comments. (More examples here:

Broadly Identifying Blank Observations
We will have several days after to ID things, but new users are looking for IDs right away. You don't have to ID to species... just narrowing it down to "plant" or "insect" is very helpful to those of who focus on specific taxa.

Pretend my name is Carrie Seltzer and I wrote more about it here last year:
Tips and tricks for welcoming & helping new users

Here's a QUICK LINK you can click on to see observations in DFW with no ID at all from users that created their iNat account in the last week.

Helping New Users to Submit Observations Correctly
There is a page of great "Frequently Used Responses" here if you come across photos of Fido or Fluffy, no photo at all, missing locations, etc.


If this post is rambling and unintelligible, I blame it on the CNC! Feel free to add suggestions/corrections below!

Posted on April 26, 2020 00:51 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 1 comment | Leave a comment

March 27, 2020

Lace balloons in the grass?

Sometimes when you are under Disaster Emergency Self-imposed I-refuse-to-get-coronavirus Quarantine, you get bored. I was wandering around the yard one day and got down on my knees to look at crane fly larvae. While I was there, I noticed these crazy lace balloons attached to the stems of Bur Clover (Medicago polymorpha).

It only took a second to spot the larvae, too.

I was fascinated watching the little larvae wiggle around in their lace balloons, but I couldn't tell if they were related to the egg stage or the cocoon stage. So I sent my field assistant (read: nephew) to bring my phone camera and collection supplies. I was able to open one of the lace balloons to see that it was a cocoon with a pupa inside.

But what ARE THEY? I suspected they were some kind of beetle (probably weevil based on the "snout" of the pupa,) but there were several species in the grass that day, so I collected a few cocoons to see what emerged.

And here it is... the Alfalfa Weevil.

I didn't know at the time to look for eggs in the stems or I would have had the full life cycle. Nevertheless, it was hands-on nature learning at it's finest.


You can read more about the Alfalfa Weevil life cycle here:

Posted on March 27, 2020 12:15 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 4 observations | 7 comments | Leave a comment

March 17, 2020

How to photograph terrestrial mushrooms to get an ID

Denis Benjamin, Mycologist at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, recently shared a document created by Billy Stone (also of BRIT) that outlines the photos needed to get a proper ID of terrestrial (ground growing) mushrooms. I thought it was very helpful information and worth sharing on iNaturalist!

Posted on March 17, 2020 18:52 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 5 comments | Leave a comment

February 27, 2020

Helpful Identification Guides

@lisa281 did something I've been longing to do, but never taken the time. She's put together a fantastic list of journal posts that iNat users have written about identifying certain topics. The list is still growing, so feel free to let Lisa know if you have posts you refer to!

Posted on February 27, 2020 12:38 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 3 comments | Leave a comment

February 04, 2020

The Anemones Are Coming!

It’s time again for the Anemones to start blooming! We are seeing lots of observations of the leaves, so keep your eyes open for those beautiful blooms to come any time now!

Thank you to everyone who helped us last year to document the less common Carolina Anemone (A. caroliniana). We collectively documented 46 observations by 15 observers at ~19 locations! That’s quite an increase from the previous year of 4 total observations! Are you ready to make 2020 an even better year?

We would love for everyone to join us in looking for the Carolina Anemone! All you need to do is learn what to look for and post your observations to iNaturalist. That’s it! Your data is automatically included.

On the DFW Carolina Anemones project page there are links to all the important information, such as how to tell them apart from Tenpetal Anemones, where to look for them, and locations still needing to be checked. You can find all of that here:

Don’t think you’ll remember all that while you are skipping through the wildflowers? It’s ok! Take photos of the flower, entire stem, and leaves. Post your observation ID as “Anemone” and we’ll tell you which species it is.

If you are interested in coming to a field information session once the Carolina Anemone is in bloom, leave a comment below or email Kimberlie at to receive announcements on the date and location. (To be determined once Mother Nature gives us the go-ahead.)

Thank you for helping us to learn more about this lesser known Windflower! Your efforts are invaluable and greatly appreciated!

@kimberlietx and @pfau_tarleton

Posted on February 04, 2020 01:13 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 1 comment | Leave a comment