Saturday, October 17, 2015

More Pepsis (and Others) at the Baccharis

The Baccharis sarothroides that we planted nine years ago (and which normally lives at slightly lower elevations) continues to flower...and flower, and flower. The rains seem to have created the ideal flowering conditions for them, as I don't remember them being quite this rich in prior years (although they flower every fall).

Pepsis mildei and Pepsis thisbe (and possibly P. pallidolimbata, but hard to tell due to wing wear) and the most abundant visitors, with P. mildei (with the orange antennae) being the most numerous.

I saw no Pepsis mildei over the summer at the milkweed. Those Pepsis seemed to be P. thisbe primarily.

The luxuriously flowering Baccharus. This is only a small fraction of it. 

Pepsis mildei male. He has 11 flagellomeres (long segments) on his antennae (females have 10). 

Orange antennae and dark margins on the wings identify this species (at least in this region).

I believe that this is a Pepsis thisbe male, due to the amount of hyaline (clear) edging on the wing tips.

A large bumblebee (likely a queen). Looks like Bombus occidentalis, but I am not certain yet.

This bee slowly moved from flower to flower...


  1. I would love for you to plant a California Coffeeberry on your property [seriously, make sure you inoculate it with a good species blended mi of mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial bacteria] and as it gets larger, you will notice it to be one of the very earliest of bloomers in the landscape. But you have to pay attention to when it blooms because the flower clusters are some of the most inconspicuous hidden flowers there are. However, these flower clusters have some of the most powerful chemical attractants for winged insects I've ever witnessed. Every type of critter in the Bee, Wasp, Mosquito, beetle, etc etc family will come for the feast. Many of these critters never hang together, but the draw is so powerful that you will see these things clamouring all over each other just to get a taste of what they smelled from far away cooking. Butterflies and even large bumble bees will be around as well and hovering, but they are generally too intimidated to land. Take my word for it you'll have fun. Coffeeberry aside from being absolutely beautiful, they are one of my predatory insect strategy plants for inserting into the landscape. The number one flying insect I spotted in great abundance were those tiny little predatory wasps. My favourite cultivator is a small compact bush variety called 'San Bruno' which I purchased from either Tree of Life Nursery in 1988. The photo below is of my San Bruno plants in 1988 at the same exact time as this Jeffrey Pine on my Anza property seen here. This was taken in 2013 I believe when my wife and I came out from Sweden for a visit. Admittedly I was disappoints by the present owner's land clearing scheme. One of the things I noticed when I collected various pines and oaks from other parts of the southwest for my property collection was after inoculating with mycorrhizae was that the wild native surrounding chaparral, like Scrub Oaks immediately performed better the following season with much truffle formation. This after years of stunted growth and simply maintaining a mere existence of survival. That tells me that populations of microbiological populations may be on the decline in some areas. Anza is doing terribly. Even the largest most beautiful populations of Parry Pinyon are dying in mass and not everything can be blamed on this last for years of so-called mega-drought. I noticed this happening long before I left there. Anyway, here is the pic below.

    California Coffeeberry - 'San Bruno'

  2. Well, I actually DID have a coffeeberry (that I purchased and planted) on the property soon after we moved into the completed house. But it never thrived and then declined to the point that I removed it. In retrospect, the spot where we put it was probably too compacted (from creation of the house pad). And it was the victim of caterpillars (that I never identified) that would go to town munching the leaves - at night, so hard to catch in the act. But it sounds like it would be an excellent addition to the milkweed (which I plan to start more native species of from seed and get them established on the property) and the Baccharis (as well as the naturally-occurring Eriogonum, which is also popular with the pollinators). But this time it needs a deep hole, and as you say, some extra help from below would likely not be a bad idea. There is some naturally-growing coffeeberry down the road, so this elevation and general habitat seem to work well for it.