August 31, 2021 Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space

It was with a bit of trepidation that I decided to visit this place, long one of my favorite areas. The last time I visited it was so bone dry I was really depressed. But with overcast skies and a starting temperature of only 71 (in August no less!) I couldn't pass up the pleasant temperatures to go somewhere where I rarely go in summer.

Surprisingly, I found much more life than expected. While I didn't see any mammals nor did I see any snakes, the insect life was good and I found a lot more flowers blooming than expected. As usual in this drought year, it took some effort to find those blooms in places, but compared to many of the areas I've been visiting that do not have water, Las Virgenes looked better than expected.

Probably the most striking aspect of the area was its absolute inundation with bagrada bugs. I wonder if these have any predators. Perhaps not as there were literally thousands of them throughout the area. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if there were hundreds of thousands. They like mustard plants and there are hundreds and hundreds of dried up mustard plants in the area. Most were on these but I also found more on almost every flowering plant I saw.

Fortunately. I did see some other interesting insects including one of my favorites, a velvet ant and one of my favorite beetles, a coscinoptera aenipennis. Another striking find was an eight barred lygropia moth. Though I've seen one before it's always great to see these beauties.

In terms of plant life, I was encouraged to see several sapling valley oaks with new leaves and one of my favorites down the trail a bit, a beautiful old very healthy looking valley oak with some beautiful red cone galls. And the long stemmed buckwheat plants where I found some interesting wasps last year, were in bloom though I didn't find those wasps. Last but not least, and though it isn't by any means a favorite of mine, I was quite surprised to find a purple nightshade in bloom which seems very late.

I understand the forecast is for another dry year and I can only hope the experts are wrong. Nature is somehow hanging on in places but it needs as much help as it can get.

Posted by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze, September 04, 2021 00:54

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Valley Oak (Quercus lobata)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 31, 2021 10:04 AM PDT

Description

Las Virgenes Canyon
Surprised to see new growth on one of the valley oak saplings but somehow even in the drought it is getting new leaves

Photos / Sounds

What

Purple Nightshade (Solanum xanti)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 31, 2021 10:15 AM PDT

Description

Las Virgenes Canyon
Surprised to see one of these in bloom this late

Photos / Sounds

What

Bagrada Bug (Bagrada hilaris)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 31, 2021 10:16 AM PDT

Description

Las Virgenes Canyon
They were everywhere. I estimate in the thousands if not hundreds of thousands.

Photos / Sounds

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 31, 2021 10:23 AM PDT

Description

Las Virgenes Canyon

Photos / Sounds

What

Bagrada Bug (Bagrada hilaris)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 31, 2021 10:26 AM PDT

Description

Las Virgenes Canyon
Thousands everywhere...maybe hundreds of thousands?

Photos / Sounds

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 31, 2021 11:51 AM PDT

Description

Las Virgenes Canyon

Photos / Sounds

What

Red Cone Gall Wasp (Andricus kingi)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 31, 2021 12:01 PM PDT

Description

Las Virgenes Canyon
On valley oak--one of the healthiest largest oaks in the area

Photos / Sounds

What

Eight-barred Lygropia Moth (Conchylodes octonalis)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 31, 2021 12:31 PM PDT

Description

Las Virgenes Canyon
On alkali heliotrope

Comments

Thanks for sharing your notes about the visit. Lovely finds despite the drought!

Posted by andreacala 3 months ago (Flag)

Thanks Andrea. Maybe it’s good that I went there expecting the worst!

Posted by naturephotosuze 3 months ago (Flag)

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