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Monday, July 6, 2015

Look Up!

On June 30th, a nice almost-full moon rose over the trees to the east, with some delicate clouds dressing it up a bit.

Venus and Jupiter still hovered to the west, and I thought I'd finally take a shot of them. For fun, I also did an eight minute long exposure of the two planets, letting them streak a bit.

It was truly full the next night, but to my eyes, it looks pretty round in outline here.

Venus (the larger one) and Jupiter.

"Planet-streak"

This high ISO image of the Milky Way was not taken this year - I took it in July of 2012. I may experiment with these night sky images a bit more this summer.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Some Arthropods Seen in the Past Weeks

We are fully in the midst of the warm season here in Cuyamaca Woods, and the small ectotherms are out in force.

I have done some black lighting on my patio, something I do every year, on and off, and various organisms are out and about, visiting the many flowers that the late rain helped sustain.

A couple of these cicadas emerged on our property in late June. They are probably in the genus Okanagana, but I have not figured out the species yet. It is a new one for me.

Smooth harvester ants, Veromessor andrei (NOT Pogonomyrmex as I thought earlier), which have several nests right in the middle of our areas of activity. They are quiet during most of the heat of the day, but then become active in late afternoon, busily carrying food to their nests. Thanks to Derek Uhey for identification of these ants.

Centrodera spurca, a common species in late June and early July here.

This huge Prionus lecontei has been one of the few Prionus sp. individuals that have come to the light at night this season. Usually there are far more Prionus californicus

A large tarantula, lighter brown than I'm used to seeing, which visited the patio on June 28.

Something new - water boatmen in the ground-level bird bath! Very small - less than 10 mm long. They were gone the next day (presumably had flown on to greener pastures).

Acmaeodera connexa on thistle.

The ultra-common Acmaeodera hepburni, on an odd plant choice (as they usually prefer flowers!).

Brothylus gemmulatus pair. Making more Brothylus gemmulatus....

Galerita lecontei, apparently the only species of Galerita in southern California. A sharp-looking individual!

Hippodamia convergens, enjoying the flowers of late May.

This was one of the largest Polycaon stouti that I've seen - well over 20 mm.
"The Big Guy". Prionus lecontei portrait. The trick to distinguish this species from the more common P. californicus is the 13 antennal segments (as opposed to 12 in P. californicus).

Schistocerca nitens, a colorful morph of the Gray Bird Grasshopper. On the driveway, June 4.
A harvestman, which I think is the "common" one hereabouts, but I still do not know which species.

Mama wolf spider with babies (on her abdomen), on Sandy Creek Road.
Pepsis sp. (maybe P. pallidolimbata?). On my milkweed that I grew from seeds a few years back. The tarantula hawks have been loving this milkweed plant this year. I will try to harvest more milkweed seeds from a couple different species this year, and grow them from seeds next spring (to create my dream "milkweed garden").