Journal archives for June 2023

June 19, 2023


It's getting to be that time of the year for the local bunnies (Sylvilagus audubonii for you Latin fans), when they are down to iron rations in the form of palo verde twigs. In particularly desperate seasons they will nip off thicker branches, peeling the bark and leaving piles of bare twigs behind.
The local bunnies had a good spring and have been reproducing as in the proverb. Little ones were a common sight. Not all survived to adulthood; I was treated to the scene of what happens when a rattlesnake discovers a nest of young. I would have been unaware of the event had the mother rabbit not returned and picked a fight with the snake about fifteen feet from my window. She was struck several times but persisted for a while until she limped off to nurse some non-fatal wounds (dry bites, presumably) and observe the rest of the proceedings.
Recently a family of Harris's hawks began hunting in the area and the rabbits have noticed. Previously they were wary, but the hawks' presence has made them visibly more cautious, more often sticking to cover. Numbers are down a bit lately as well.
6/23 addendum: Just watched a bunny climb about a foot up into a tree branch after twigs.

Posted on June 19, 2023 03:56 AM by stevejones stevejones | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 20, 2023

Closing this project

Fair warning to any who read this, I'll be deleting this project in the next day or two. It's made redundant by this project set up by the Maricopa Parks and Recreation Department. I encourage you to join that project in lieu of this one.

Posted on June 20, 2023 02:08 AM by stevejones stevejones | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 26, 2023

Rackensack Canyon project

One of my favorite nearby sites on the Tonto NF is Rackensack Canyon. The area is in the transition zone between Arizona upland and interior chaparral biotic communities. This is reflected in the main canyon, with interior chaparral dominating north-facing slopes and Arizona upland on the south-facing slopes. In addition the wash running through the canyon hosts riparian vegetation, including cottonwood, willow, ash, sycamore and net-leaf hackberry. The wash runs WNW to ESE, merging with Camp Creek just below the Cave Creek Road (FS 24) crossing.
I created a collection project for the area using a rough map of the canyon's watershed, cheating a bit on the southern boundary to take in parts of a trail along that boundary.
Rackensack Canyon is a good area for birders and butterfly enthusiasts. I'm not sure about organized bird hikes, but the Central Arizona Butterfly Association (CAzBA) holds occasional field trips in the area.
It's also a good area to hunt for galls. Galls have been observed on numerous species including scrub oak, Arizona juniper, net-leaf hackberry, cottonwood, burrobush, catclaw acacia, desert broom, tarragon, even a euphorb in section Anisophyllum.

Posted on June 26, 2023 06:08 PM by stevejones stevejones | 7 comments | Leave a comment

June 27, 2023


Rackensack Canyon is a great area for gall-hunting. While most species have been observed on scrub oak (Quercus turbinella), there are numerous other taxa hosting galls induced by insects, mites, scales, fungi, and in one case a virus.

This is a tally of those found so far, by host. All are insects unless noted:

Scrub oak (Quercus turbinella):
Andricus prescottii
Andricus reticulatus
Andricus ruginosus
Andricus scutella
Andricus tubularius
Andricus wheeleri
Atrusca capronae
Callirhytis juvenca
Cynips acraspiformis
Disholcaspis pedunculoides
Disholcaspis rubens
Disholcaspis spissa
Neuroterus aliceae
Neuroterus alexandrae
Neuroterus lamellae
Phylloteras cupella
Xanthoteras eburneum
All the above are members of the oak gall wasp tribe, Cynipini. In addition, the scale insect Allokermes sp. forms hard-shelled gall-like structures on scrub oak stems.

Net-leaf hackberry (Celtis reticulata):
Aceria celtis (mite)
Ampelovirus (virus)
Pachypsylla celtidisvesicula
Pachypsylla pallida

Cottonwood (Populus fremontii):
Pachypsylla venusta

Catclaw acacia (Senegalia greggii):
Ravenelia (fungus)
Tanaostigmodes howardii

Arizona (redberry) juniper (Juniperus arizonica):
Walshomyia juniperina

Burrobrush (Ambrosia monogyra):
Craspedolepta lapsus

There are also some unidentified or unnamed critters:
On desert broom (Baccharis sarothroides), this one and this one.
On tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus), this one, possibly in the genus Rhopalomyia
On red-gland spurge (Euphorbia melanadenia), a tubular gall similar to those I've found on Euphorbia polycarpa)

Posted on June 27, 2023 12:03 AM by stevejones stevejones | 0 comments | Leave a comment