Journal archives for May 2024

May 03, 2024

Ericameria laricifolia apical gall

(For lack of a given term)
I've been interested in these galls on Ericameria laricifolia for some time, and recently found great numbers at the Sears Kay ruin on the Tonto National Forest. I returned later and collected a couple of dozen to observe.

Galls are apical, teardrop-shaped and are derived from leaf tissue widening and forming a gall with a chamber of overlapping bracts. The bracts are weakly and incompletely fused, occasionally leaving small gaps. It appears that the gall is abandoned by the caterpillar before pupating; apparently they drop and pupate in the soil below.

The galls are only occupied for a short period; field dissections of the galls showed them mostly empty with remnant frass at the distal end of the gall. Occupied gall here:

Of the galls collected, half a dozen larvae were collected in the bottom of a jar with loose peat. Most of these died, but one was removed and raised in a petri dish; it developed into a pupa:

The pupa matured and the adult emerged overnight and measures about 7 mm in length. It had difficulty in escaping the exuviae - took a bit of work to help it escape. Material from the exuviae remained on its left side after the struggle. It is interfering with its attempts to fly.

A second larva built a chamber using the peat material in the bottom of the jar. A check of the jar last week revealed a couple of dozen tiny wasps. Most were released but attempts to photograph a living adult weren't successful. Photos here are of one the wasps post-mortem. Length about 2 mm.

(Photos link to the observations with additional photos.)

Posted on May 03, 2024 05:48 PM by stevejones stevejones | 5 comments | Leave a comment

May 20, 2024

Tonto burns again

I spent the day monitoring flightradar24.com watching the air attack on the Wildcat fire. It's quite an impressive effort. There were almost 50 slurry runs today.
The area burning is one I know well. I've been up many of those canyons and ridges south of Bartlett Dam Road and know the area north of it pretty well, too. Much of it has burned in recent fires, but the core area has no recorded fires in USFS records since 1970. All of the slurry runs fell within the formerly unburned area.
Two years of favorable growth for Bromus rubens (late germinating rains, good following rains) have produced what's technically called a shitload of tinder. It's thigh-deep in some locations. Here at the house I've chopped about an acre of it with a string trimmer.
The Wildcat fire has burned 12,100 acres as of today.
The only good news is that the fire hasn't hit Bootleg Canyon (also called Indian Spring Wash on some maps), at least not yet. I have my eye on a little ash grove in a branch of that canyon; it's a special place for me and I would miss it should it burn.

Posted on May 20, 2024 03:21 AM by stevejones stevejones | 7 comments | Leave a comment