Sunday, May 22, 2016

HumBug: Bugs at the Refuge

Posted By on Sun, May 22, 2016 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge Another carrion beetle (Nicrophorus defodiens).
  • Another carrion beetle (Nicrophorus defodiens).

After dropping off 20 years worth of household hazardous wastes, I rewarded myself on the way home (camera in hand of course) with a stroll through the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The neatly laid out and maintained gravel paths offer a great place to relax and soak up a bit of nature. There were few birds in evidence: only one large egret and a few swallows too far away to get a good photo. There were, however, some interesting insects.

click to enlarge The gorgeous green dock beetle (Gastrophysa cyanea).
  • The gorgeous green dock beetle (Gastrophysa cyanea).
I finally saw a few dark metallic green dock beetles, which feed on sorrel, also known as, “dock.”
I got pictures of two different species of carrion beetles both near the same place. Though a bit gruesome, their lifestyles are interesting. These are some of the insects made popular in crime shows as indicators of post mortem interval (PMI), helping forensic entomologists determine how long a body has been dead. There is a good introduction to the subject on Wikipedia
click to enlarge Carrion beetle (Heterosilpha ramosa), creepy little crime solver.
  • Carrion beetle (Heterosilpha ramosa), creepy little crime solver.
I watched several blue mosaic California Darner Dragonflies patrolling along the edges of the open waterways, too.
click to enlarge A dapper Pacific forktail male (Ischnura cervula).
  • A dapper Pacific forktail male (Ischnura cervula).
A pretty, green metallic spreadwing damselfly put in an appearance too brief for a good ID. The real stars of the show that day were dozens of Pacific forktail damselflies. Flying like tiny blue and black helicopters among the low grasses beside the paths they were ardently working at the preservation of the species and, from the numbers I saw, doing a pretty good job of it.
click to enlarge Male and female Pacific forktails "in wheel," which is what the entomologists are calling it these days.
  • Male and female Pacific forktails "in wheel," which is what the entomologists are calling it these days.
Throughout the entire refuge there are signs posted illustrating the different birds and animals that can be seen, and although they seem to have left out the insects, it is still one of my favorite places.


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