מרץ 24, 2020

Spring! Texas Acmaeodera

As spring springs and as observations of Acmaeoderae are flowing into iNat, I wanted to give a quick synopsis-thing of the Acmaeodera found in Texas in spring--where the majority of Acmaeodera observations are focused, especially in March-April. This way, I might not have to explain differences betwixt species as often as I generally would. (I'd add pictures, but I actually only have seen two of the species listed below in person)
The Ornata Complex
The first 'complex' that exists is the ornata complex. This consists of Acmaeodera ornata and Acmaeodera ornatoides. The easiest way to distinguish this complex from the other one is size. The Ornata Complex is generally a centimetre or greater in length. It has almost white spots that are generally separated. For most people, the only species you will encounter in Texas is the latter (ornatoides). Acmaeodera ornata in TX is restricted to the extreme northern and eastern portions of the state and is generally fairly rare. This species can be separated from the more common ornatoides by the presence of a fairly distinct curved white line on the side of the beetle nearer to the head. Acmaeodera ornatoides, a much more common species, is restricted to TX. It can be distinguished by the lack of the pale 'humeral' line as well as the presence of a bluer sheen on the elytra.

The Neglecta-Tubulus Complex
The second 'complex' is much more complicated. This one is the neglecta-tubulus complex and contains Acmaeodera neglecta, Acmaeodera neoneglecta, and Acmaeodera tubulus (There are several other species in the complex, but they are either less common or not in TX). This complex can be separated by the size again since all species in the complex are about the size of a grain of rice--extremely tiny! Acmaeodera tubulus is widespread throughout TX and is generally identified by the presence of several large separated spots. It kindof looks like a tiny ornata if you squint. The second species is more of a species-complex within a complex. The neglecta complex obviously contains neglecta and neoneglecta. These two species are incredibly similar to one another--even their genitalia are almost perfect matches! This complex is highly variable and some individuals will have patterns near tubulus whereas others will look completely different! The only superficial way to differentiate between the two species is range at this point. As a rule of thumb, Acmaeodera neglecta is found north of Austin (the middle-ish of TX), and Acmaeodera neoneglecta is found south of Austin. Obviously this provides major issues, since both species will stray rather far from the Austin border and mess everything up. I generally will not ID species in the entire middle segment of TX to species if they belong to this complex, simply to avoid potential contradictions. However, 99 times of 100, the species in places like DFW and near will be neglecta and the species down in Corpus Christi and Big Bend to Val Verde will be neoneglecta.

Later in April, species from the pulchella complex--namely Acmaeodera mixta will make a grand appearance, but they are larger, yellow-browner, and much scarier to figure out.

Other spring species, uvaldensis, miliaris, tildenorum, starrae et cetera are much more rare and restricted to areas such as S or W TX. I'll not really address those, since the majority of people will never encounter any of these species.

And that's it! Just 4 common species to learn (or maybe 5...6...7...maybe 10...just kidding). Hopefully, this will be helpful--it was helpful for me since I had nothing better to do with the past couple hours of my life.

Oh and this can basically apply to most east coast states with a few changes: only species are neglecta, tubulus, ornata, and now pulchella. Pulchella has yellow spots, so there's no way that can be confused with these other brown-white dotted species.

פורסם ב מרץ 24, 2020 05:29 אחה"צ על־ידי tuftedparidae tuftedparidae | 2 comments | הוספת תגובה

דצמבר 07, 2019

2019: A Year in Review

2019 marks the year that I first began collecting, as well as the year I first began to really focus exclusively on Buprestidae. Due to that, this summary is heavily about Buprestidae, so if you hate Jewel Beetles, then feel free to stop reading (Also, what’s wrong with you?).

This year, I found a total of 53 species of Buprestids and collected 52 species. 17% were Agrilinae, 13% Buprestinae, 8% Chrysochroinae, and 62% Polycestinae. I collected from a total of 5 states in the US and received Buprestids from 4 states.

Agrilinae: Agrilus arizonicus (AZ:1), Agrilus gibicollis (NM:1), Agrilus latifrons (AZ:2), Agrilus planipennis (MI:1), Agrilus sulcicollis (MI:1), Agrilus pulchellus (NM:2), Agrilus lecontei celticola (AZ:1). Brachys ovatus (AL:1), Brachys sp. (NM:1).
Buprestinae: Buprestis lineata (AR:1). Anthaxia sp. (NM:1). Agrilaxia flavimana (AZ:1). Chrysobothris caddo (NM:1), Chrysobothris lateralis (NM:1), Chrysobothris knulli (NM:2), Chrysobothris merkelli (NM:1). Sphaerobothris ulkei (NM:1).
Chrysochroinae: Gyascutus caelatus (NM:4), Gyascutus planicosta (NV:1). Lampetis drummondi (NM:3), Lampetis webbii (NM:1).
Polycestinae: Acmaeodera acanthicola (AZ:1), Acmaeodera alicia (AZ:1), Acmaeodera amabilis (NM:14), Acmaeodera amplicollis (NM:6 AZ:6), Acmaeodera auritincta (NM:4), Acmaeodera bowditchi (NM:1), Acmaeodera cazieri (AZ: 3), Acmaeodera chiricahuae (AZ:7), Acmaeodera decipiens (NM:19 AZ:6), Acmaeodera diffusa (UT:3), Acmaeodera disjuncta (NM:9), Acmaeodera flavopicta (NM:3), Acmaeodera gibbula (NM:5), Acmaeodera haemorrhoa (TX:1), Acmaeodera knowltoni (UT:2), Acmaeodera ligulata (NM:2), Acmaeodera maculifera (NM:7), Acmaeodera mixta (NM:14), Acmaeodera neglecta (TX:1), Acmaeodera ornatoides (TX:1), Acmaeodera parkeri (NM:2 AZ:1), Acmaeodera pubiventris lanata (UT:1), Acmaeodera pulchella (FL:1), Acmaeodera quadrivittatoides (NM:3), Acmaeodera recticollis (NM:2), Acmaeodera rubronotata (NM:3 AZ:7), Acmaeodera scalaris (NM:5 AZ:1 TX:1), Acmaeodera solitaria (AZ:4), Acmaeodera variegata (NM:3), Acmaeodera yuccavora (NM:1). Thrincopyge alacris (NM:4), Thrincopyge ambiens (NM:1).
Highlights:
SE AZ: The first time I went to Southeast Arizona this year, I had the help of a wonderful Bup guy, Denanthony Fernandez (BG: Pleocoma). We spoke via email, and he helped me to find both Acmaeodera acanthicola and Acmaeodera alicia. I also went again to the area and found my target A. chiricahuae.

Local: Acmaeodera yuccavora was a first for me and a first for the area this far east. It possibly represents a new species or a new population. (I would love the help of all the local iNatters to find and maybe collect more).

Misses:
TX!!!!!: I travelled to TX several times this year and came away with a total of 2 species. I first came to South Texas late March, hoping to find A. neoneglecta and maybe even A. starrae. I left with one blister beetle. Misses from Texas include A. neoglecta, A. tubulus, B. rufipes, and more.

Next Year:
My biggest goal is to work on beating more. Last year, I relied primarily on my eye, but that only goes so far. On top of that, I am hoping to work on rearing from collected logs this next year as well.

Local targets for next year include Acmaeodera cribicollis, more of the Brachys I collected last year, Paratyndaris, and Acmaeodera immaculata. I am hoping to frequent the West Texas area and maybe do some South and Central Texas. Goals from here include Acmaeodera tiquilia, Acmaeodera riograndei, Acmaeodera starrae, Acmaeodera neoneglecta, and Ptosima.
All in all, I have had a wonderful year and hope to find many more species next year with the help of many of you all on iNaturalist, and thank you all for helping me this year!

פורסם ב דצמבר 07, 2019 03:39 לפנה"צ על־ידי tuftedparidae tuftedparidae | 8 comments | הוספת תגובה

אוגוסט 26, 2019

Acmaeodera yuccavora

This past weekend, I decided to take a quick trip to Dog Canyon, just south of Alamogordo. I went specifically for Acmaeodera auritincta, which was seen in the area last year at about this time. I was definitely successful, as I found 10+ individuals on the Dog Canyon Trail. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/31434949
Other than this, the Bup life was surprisingly dull, with the exception of one observation of Acmaeodera yuccavora.

As I was hiking down the trail back towards the visitor centre at Oliver Lee SP, a small insect caught my eye on a small yellow flower. I got a quick, good view of the insect before it flew. I am certain it was Acmaeodera yuccavora.

Appearance: Small Acmaeodera, larger than A. quadrivittatoides, but slightly smaller than A. variegata, both species found in a similar habitat (albeit different times of year). The Bup was black and had four tan stripes across each elytron that didn’t quite reach the fused suture. The end of the Bup was rounded, and very similar in appearance to A. quadrivittatoides in shape. I did not get a good look at the pronotum or underside.

Behaviour: The Bup was on a small flower, which is typical for most Acmaeoderae. Flower species did not match BugGuide’s one species named (Allionia), but this species does not have enough data for us to possibly declare only one adult host.

When I flushed it, however, it flew about 3 metres before landing on the rock surface. This is probably the number one biggest indicator of this species. Knull’s paper says that it will, “frequently alight on paths or other bare areas,” which is not common in Acmaeodera. They will generally, when flushed, fly to another adult host or larval host occasionally, not the ground. After it landed there for about 30 seconds, it flew towards a large rock surface by a dangerous precipice (hence the reason why I couldn’t find it again).

Range: Nearly every databased A. yuccavora is collected in AZ, with a few Mexican records and one NM record in western NM. Knull’s specimens were nearly all found in the Chiricahua Mountains, and subsequent collectors have collected it in other areas around Portal as well. The Mexican record was photographed on iNaturalist, and the NM record posted onto BugGuide. However, the closest record is 250 km away from Alamogordo. That it why this find is so significant for me: it would expand A. yuccavora’s range by a significant amount.

Host: Although the majority of the Asparagus species were Dasylirion, which shewed no sign of being an alternative host, Yucca was found semi-regularly on the trail. When I return, I’ll collect some stalks of the dead Yuccae in hopes to rear some.

Unfortunately, this observation was by eye only, so it really accounts for nothing, but I hope to go out again in a couple of weeks (not next week, I’ll be in Vegas) and try to find this awesome Bup again!

פורסם ב אוגוסט 26, 2019 03:56 אחה"צ על־ידי tuftedparidae tuftedparidae | 1 comment | הוספת תגובה

דצמבר 04, 2018

Cacti on Tortugas Mountain

After extensively hiking the entire Tortugas (A) Mountain--including the area below, I think I can confidently declare the species of cactus found on the mountain.

Opuntia: I do not have experience with opuntia, therefore all cactus in this genus will be lumped. This is one of the most common types of cactus on the mountain, though numbers seem to dwindle as the elevation increases. These cactus are often very large and offer protection for birds such as Black-throated Sparrows and mammals such as Desert Cottontails.

The most common cactus on the mountain is the Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus. The number of these increase as elevation increases, but are still extant on the bottom and base of the hill. By the time you get to the top, one cannot walk 5 metres without encountering one.

Devilshead is also fairly common on the mountain. They are smaller and tend to be much more hidden, often near the above Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus. The numbers slightly increase as elevation increases, but there is not a very clear change in numbers.

Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus: They are small and seem to be new to the area. They are very rare on the base of the hill and nonexistent on the top.

Nipple Beehive Cactus: They are uncommon and only found at the base of the mountain. They can be very big, but I noticed many that seemed to be dying.

I only found about three or four Christmas Cholla on the mountain, and they seemed to be only at the top. They were also rather new and small.

Graham's Fishhook Cactus: These were uncommon to common on the top and were only found at the top half of the mountain. They are very small, and thus easy to miss. It was the only one still flowering at this time of the year.

Fishhook Barrel Cactus: These are only found at the bottom of the hill and are very common there. Size ranges from small to very large.

Note: I was unable to find the Nylon Hedgehog Cactus on the mountain, which is odd due to the relative commonness over the rest of the county.

פורסם ב דצמבר 04, 2018 04:55 אחה"צ על־ידי tuftedparidae tuftedparidae | 0 comments | הוספת תגובה

אוגוסט 18, 2018

NMSU Waterfowl

With the updated taxonomy update coming out for birds and the most relevant change being the addition of the Mexican Duck (A. diazi), I thought it logical to journal local Anatids found on campus, especially at the Alumni Pond.
As of 8/17/2018, there are 21 "Mallards" living at the Alumni Pond. About 8 seem to be domesticated in some way: One all-white Mallard, one all-grey Mallard, and the rest more closely resembling the average Mallard, only bigger. I only found 2 true Mallards (although one did have 7 chicks). The remaining two are likely some integrade/hybid betwixt the A. diazi and A. platyrhynchos. J. Gilb discovered a pure Mexican Duck at Knox Pond Apr 2018. A Domestic Mallard once appeared that seemingly had Pacific Black Duck genes.
When winter arrives, it will likely bring the wigeons. As many as 11 American Wigeons have been recorded on campus at once, although there are generally about 4 at one time. Interestingly, the campus wigeon population seems to not be very steady, varying hugely betwixt just a few days. There are generally 2 males that stay for the winter--the fluctuating numbers are pretty exclusively females.

The third most common Anatid is the Gadwall. Though 8 have been found at once in the Stadium Drainage Pond, the average is certainly one. There are 10 total records of Gadwalls on campus.
Winter always attracts the Canvasbacks. Feb-Apr 2017 brought 2 faithful Canvasbacks (male and female) and Jan-Mar 2018 brought one (female).
A Ring-necked Duck appeared on the Alumni Pond for a day in Nov 2017 (Also seen Jan 2016 by W. Egelhoff). A Lesser Scaup showed up similarly in Feb 2018. A Common Merganser came in May 2017. A pair of Blue-winged Teals were flushed from the drainage pond Apr 2017. C. Campbell reported 4 Canada Goose in Feb 2015.
A few final non-Anatid waterfowl ought to be noted as well. American Coots are rare but possible. Egelhoff reported one for much of December 2015 at both the Union Drainage Pond and the Alumni Pond (likely the same individual). Another Coot was found at the Alumni Pond from Jan-Apr 2018. Furthermore, a Pied-billed Grebe wintered from 2015-16 at the Alumni Pond (Egelhoff, et al.). It was also discovered Dec 2017 and stayed for an afternoon.

פורסם ב אוגוסט 18, 2018 01:47 לפנה"צ על־ידי tuftedparidae tuftedparidae | 0 comments | הוספת תגובה

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