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Daryl

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 Slow soak a thirsty Albizia sinaloensis sapling for an hour = attracting attention from thirsty Cockroaches, our giant flying kind..

Go to shut off the water, and see an unexpected face hanging out, munching on said Cockroaches..  

Great Plains Toad, Anaxyrus cognatus.. one of two " Eastern Toads "  whose native ranges extend into the Desert Southwest ( and parts of neighboring California as well ), and 1 of 4 " True " toads that can be encountered in suburban yards in the valley / Tucson..  First time observing this species here.

Unlike Spadefoot Toads ( Genus Spea = Western species.. and Scaphiopus = Southern species ) Pupils are horizontal rather than vertical / Cat - like.  Skin is, well, toad-like, rather than essentially smooth ( Spadefoot Toads )..  True Toads, at least both the Great Plains and Woodhouse's,  are also active on and off throughout the year,  ..rather than just during Monsoon season.


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Another great reason to keep any pesticide use in the yard to the absolute minimum... Or just don't use any.

 

Edited by Silas_Sancona
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Another fella on his way to the garden:F3D6136E-F368-4063-8302-5B0E5CA8A8E9.thumb.jpeg.08c61483e7efe1cde653ead8b6c77dfb.jpeg

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What you look for is what is looking

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You know the heat is on  when the " Steelies " are out hunting..  Steel Blue Cricket Hunter, Chlorion aererium.

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Have an abundance of Crickets hanging around?   these guys will balance things out..  Interestingly, they will often share the burrows of other ground nesting wasps such as Cicada Killers.  Because the two species pursue different prey, there is no competition.  Other species in the Genus Chlorion  will tackle Cockroaches..

While they can sting, it is very rare. They are also one of the least " territorial " Wasp species one could encounter in the yard.. Have sat and watched a female dig her burrow without any issues. More often, you'll be chasing them around trying to get pictures then them posing any sort of threat.

As mentioned in the past, the species closely resembles another fairly common,  warm season " Steely Blue "  Wasp  you want around, the Near Arctic Blue Mud Dubber, Chalybion californicum.  These are famous for kidnapping Black Widows and hauling them back to their nests. They will also hunt other species of Spiders as well.  Adults are important pollinators of various plants. Temperament around people is about the same as Cricket Hunters and other Mud Dubbers.. Don't try to grab them, and you won't get stung.

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Do domesticated visitors count? 

Otis hated the outdoors the first couple times we put him out there.  Now he's an adjusted primal predator in his adopted habitat. 

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Yard Birds, on a hot afternoon..

House Finch, Male.


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White Winged Dove, collecting nesting material..

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This is the Leiocephalus carinatus or Curly-tailed lizard native to Cuba and the Bahamas. it was supposedly introduced out of the Glades to control sugarcane pests in the 1940’s. I have never seen one out in the Glades but they used to be virtually isolated to the island of PB. They are now ubiquitous all over south Florida.

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What you look for is what is looking

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Great Plains Toad, Anaxyrus cognatus,  Hanging out out front this time.. Not sure if this is the same one that i usually see out back or a different specimen. 

Skin is cleaner this time, so easier to ID.


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On 6/18/2022 at 4:04 AM, bubba said:

This is the Leiocephalus carinatus or Curly-tailed lizard native to Cuba and the Bahamas. it was supposedly introduced out of the Glades to control sugarcane pests in the 1940’s. I have never seen one out in the Glades but they used to be virtually isolated to the island of PB. They are now ubiquitous all over south Florida.

The curly-tails just showed up (or at least visibly so) in our area of Big Pine Key a little before Irma. I saw one at a nursery on Ramrod Key probably around 2015 and they told me they for some reason had a large population of them there, but that they were quite rare in the area. The first one I saw on Big Pine, at our neighbor's house, was I guess 2016/2017. They obviously survived Irma no problem...as I now see them regularly. What I miss are all the green anoles. They have been largely supplanted by the brown anole from the Caribbean, though the green ones are still around. For some reason they always seem to find safe harbor in the inflorescences of coconut trees. I just saw one a few weeks ago (first in a while) in a coconut inflorescence. And right after Irma, with all vegetation stripped, we had one Gold Malayan coconut next to our staircase that had a single inflorescence open. It was inhabited by ants, honey-bees, and a single green anole. 

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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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Green anoles are all over and move slowly…

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What you look for is what is looking

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Orange morph Urosaurus ornatus ( Ornate Tree Lizard ) male trying to be a tough guy ..but running off when approached. That time of year when male, female, and babies can be found hanging out on the block wall.

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On 6/6/2022 at 10:29 PM, Silas_Sancona said:

You know the heat is on  when the " Steelies " are out hunting..  Steel Blue Cricket Hunter, Chlorion aererium.

Have an abundance of Crickets hanging around?   these guys will balance things out..  Interestingly, they will often share the burrows of other ground nesting wasps such as Cicada Killers.  Because the two species pursue different prey, there is no competition.  Other species in the Genus Chlorion  will tackle Cockroaches..

While they can sting, it is very rare. They are also one of the least " territorial " Wasp species one could encounter in the yard.. Have sat and watched a female dig her burrow without any issues. More often, you'll be chasing them around trying to get pictures then them posing any sort of threat.

As mentioned in the past, the species closely resembles another fairly common,  warm season " Steely Blue "  Wasp  you want around, the Near Arctic Blue Mud Dubber, Chalybion californicum.  These are famous for kidnapping Black Widows and hauling them back to their nests. They will also hunt other species of Spiders as well.  Adults are important pollinators of various plants. Temperament around people is about the same as Cricket Hunters and other Mud Dubbers.. Don't try to grab them, and you won't get stung.

Nathan, you have me wondering if what we have here in Rancho Mirage is this "cricket hunter" or the "black widow assassin." These have just shown up again this year, I'm seeing them most days, they hunt around amidst the potted plants. I had seen what I thought was the ID for what we have a couple of years ago, and it made sense it was hunting spiders. But now you have me wondering if we have the cricket hunter instead. Ours have a beautiful blue-black gloss that is highly reflective. And they are big and attention-grabbing! I assume they have the same gruesome habit as do the spider-hunting mud-daubers we have at our house in the Keys. I once caught one injecting its paralyzing venom into a spider, on its way to pack the helpless creature into the nest, to be consumed alive by the hatching young in its sealed tomb. Those daubers seem to only take a certain spider we have there, it has the form of a black widow (large abdomen) but has a white "cap" on the top of the abdomen, and it lives in mulch. When you water, it comes running out, and that's when they're vulnerable. It is truly like an Edgar Allen Poe horror story, to think how these mud-daubers have evolved to feed their young. And we do have a lot of crickets in Rancho Mirage. Mostly inside the house, ahem, I think it's time to consider buying a house-gecko of some sort to keep the roach and cricket population in check. We carry so many of these house-bound critters out into the garden, it gets a little overwhelming at times. I would buy a huntsman except that I think our occasional houseguests would freak out at the sight of one...they are wonderful at controlling the bug population, but best for those people familiar with their appearance and habits.

Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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55 minutes ago, mnorell said:

Nathan, you have me wondering if what we have here in Rancho Mirage is this "cricket hunter" or the "black widow assassin." These have just shown up again this year, I'm seeing them most days, they hunt around amidst the potted plants. I had seen what I thought was the ID for what we have a couple of years ago, and it made sense it was hunting spiders. But now you have me wondering if we have the cricket hunter instead. Ours have a beautiful blue-black gloss that is highly reflective. And they are big and attention-grabbing! I assume they have the same gruesome habit as do the spider-hunting mud-daubers we have at our house in the Keys. I once caught one injecting its paralyzing venom into a spider, on its way to pack the helpless creature into the nest, to be consumed alive by the hatching young in its sealed tomb. Those daubers seem to only take a certain spider we have there, it has the form of a black widow (large abdomen) but has a white "cap" on the top of the abdomen, and it lives in mulch. When you water, it comes running out, and that's when they're vulnerable. It is truly like an Edgar Allen Poe horror story, to think how these mud-daubers have evolved to feed their young. And we do have a lot of crickets in Rancho Mirage. Mostly inside the house, ahem, I think it's time to consider buying a house-gecko of some sort to keep the roach and cricket population in check. We carry so many of these house-bound critters out into the garden, it gets a little overwhelming at times. I would buy a huntsman except that I think our occasional houseguests would freak out at the sight of one...they are wonderful at controlling the bug population, but best for those people familiar with their appearance and habits.

You may be seeing both ..if not a few other wasp sp. in different Genus that look quite similar and occur here in the Southwest / S. Cal...

Near Arctic Blue Mud Dabber
https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/133790-Chalybion-californicum

Steel Blue Cricket Hunter :
https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/119073-Chlorion-aerarium

There may be one or two other " Chlorion "  Cricket Hunters  that occur sporadically in the region as well, but get miss ID'ed because they look almost the same as the commonest species.. They also can take down Cockroaches and some Beetles..

Waiting to start hearing of sightings of these here:  https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/348362-Ampulex-compressa  Very common in Hawaii, and it's only a matter of time before their range in W. Mexico starts expanding, ..or they accidentally arrive in CA from Hawaii.

See these?  https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/264674-Evania-appendigaster    They're definitely after Cockroaches.. Encounter a few out hunting daily, and the occasional indoor visitor.

Definitely " Cricket Round Up Season " here as well..  Usually find 2 or 3  the house per week.. Outside? I could start a Reptile feeding supply company, haha..  No worries about them damaging plants.. Seem to prefer the Bermuda.

You probably have Huntsman Spiders lurking somewhere on your property..  Maybe both " Huntsman " you'd also see in S. FL.?

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/298663-Olios-giganteus

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/48765-Heteropoda-venatoria

We supposedly have Olios  around as well, but have yet to see one.    As far as the scare factor,  .. A little intimidating when stumbled upon.. or when they go from zero to lightning fast runner, but otherwise fascinating critters.


 

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  • 2 weeks later...

At the expense of getting myself in trouble,  Have to say,  This REALLY  pisses me off:

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/monarch-butterflies-are-added-endangered-list-rcna39340

Really tired of seeing iconic animals i grew up studying from Kindergarten onward starting to disappear simply because too many people have some overly dramatic ..and frankly - weird-  fear of insects, or the few chewed up leaves / flowers / fruit they sometimes cause in the garden ..and have to spray everything, not thinking about the consequences of using that garbage...  Planting over -bred, usually weak,  ..and rather boring HD garden section bedding plants, instead of much tougher native and regionally native " bedding " plants, including Milkweed..   Or, they simply don't care.   

When i was younger, my mom used to take the family to a popular beach near Santa Cruz ( CA. ) fairly often where Monarchs overwinter, often in the Eucalyptus trees above the Beach .  A park ranger that was leading a hike during one visit actually allowed me to participate in the walk, talking w/ other people on the same walk about the butterflies, some of the plants ...Think i was 9.


Wayy past time to ban all pesticides/ Herbicides and plant area appropriate Milkweed sp. anywhere they can be planted. To anyone who say " Eck!, ...Miklweeds / ..or other native plants.. are weedy looking / boring / ugly.."
..Please sign on for a one way flight to Mars. Can take all the Pansies, froofy Roses and Tulips, and Petunias along for the ride too :)

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Full grown Mediterranean Gecko appeared from somewhere inside the stump while flooding it last night.

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Ornate Tree Lizards..

Female that hung around while i took down the stump, then returned to it after i moved it.


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Old Male checking things out. Can see he lost part of his tail to something ..Probably the bleepin' cats :rage:

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One of a few of this years hatchlings  also investigating the stump after removal.

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Greater Roadrunner, Geococcyx californianus Spotted during yesterdays quick trip to San Tan Valley.  While hunting in a neighborhood park, seeing these roaming yards on a regular basis is one of the benefits of living closer to open desert. Saw another cross a trail with a large lizard in it's beak while stopping somewhere else on the way back.

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A Cockroach hating, Blue - eyed beauty..  Blue Eyed Ensign / Hatchet Wasp, Evania appendigaster   Looking for Cockroach egg cases to parasitize.

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On 7/22/2022 at 12:46 AM, Silas_Sancona said:

At the expense of getting myself in trouble,  Have to say,  This REALLY  pisses me off:

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/monarch-butterflies-are-added-endangered-list-rcna39340

Really tired of seeing iconic animals i grew up studying from Kindergarten onward starting to disappear simply because too many people have some overly dramatic ..and frankly - weird-  fear of insects, or the few chewed up leaves / flowers / fruit they sometimes cause in the garden ..and have to spray everything, not thinking about the consequences of using that garbage...  Planting over -bred, usually weak,  ..and rather boring HD garden section bedding plants, instead of much tougher native and regionally native " bedding " plants, including Milkweed..   Or, they simply don't care.   

When i was younger, my mom used to take the family to a popular beach near Santa Cruz ( CA. ) fairly often where Monarchs overwinter, often in the Eucalyptus trees above the Beach .  A park ranger that was leading a hike during one visit actually allowed me to participate in the walk, talking w/ other people on the same walk about the butterflies, some of the plants ...Think i was 9.


Wayy past time to ban all pesticides/ Herbicides and plant area appropriate Milkweed sp. anywhere they can be planted. To anyone who say " Eck!, ...Miklweeds / ..or other native plants.. are weedy looking / boring / ugly.."
..Please sign on for a one way flight to Mars. Can take all the Pansies, froofy Roses and Tulips, and Petunias along for the ride too :)

On a related note, host plants are frequently sprayed with BT to control gypsy moths, so hose down purchased plants before planting.

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20 minutes ago, amh said:

On a related note, host plants are frequently sprayed with BT to control gypsy moths, so hose down purchased plants before planting.

Not when grown from seed, or when you purchase them from a nursery that doesn't put anything on their plants ( except maybe caterpillars, in the case of Milkweeds,  lol ) Only purchase from such nurseries myself.

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  • 2 weeks later...

While the main species, Aphelocoma californica  is a common backyard bird in California,  Our subspecies is an uncommon backyard visitor here in AZ.  Woodhouse's Scrub Jay,  Aphelocoma woodhouseii  After hearing them calling from different areas while hiking today and on other visits last year, this guy and another decided to get close enough to photograph.  First sighted observation of this species here in AZ.

 Mexican Jay, Aphelocoma wollweberi   A Scrub Jay look-alike, may also regularly pass through here / occasionally turn  up in Phoenix or Tucson area backyards.  While it's distribution skirts areas just to the north of Oak Flat, there are more than enough Pinyon on- site to attract the passing or vagrant Pinyon Jay,  Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus  that wanders south or west of the higher mountains.


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Not entirely certain on the ID, Could be Sceloporus cowlesi,  Southwestern Fence Lizard,  or Sceloporus tristichus, Plateau Fence Lizard.  Both supposedly occur up on the flat.  First encounter w/ either species regardless.

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Edited by Silas_Sancona
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Yeah, it's another Sancho pic. Yes, he's not really a visitor because he lives here. 

 

Still. I think it counts. 

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1 hour ago, JohnAndSancho said:

Yeah, it's another Sancho pic. Yes, he's not really a visitor because he lives here. 

 

Still. I think it counts. 

IMG_20220808_200340.jpg

Domesticated Pets = " Pet Thread "

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2 minutes ago, Silas_Sancona said:

Domesticated Pets = " Pet Thread "

Yeah. I've posted lots of Sancho there. He gets offended when I call him domesticated though. 

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We all know there are plenty of Insects, Plants, Reptiles and Amphibians ...Fungi, Fish and other water dwelling critters ..and even a Mammal or two which wield toxic compounds, most often used to either subdue prey, ...or for defense..   But?  ..a Bird??

Yes, you heard that correct.  We can now add a species of bird to the " official " list of  " Poisonous " animals..  

Another neat win for evolution :greenthumb::greenthumb:


https://www.odditycentral.com/animals/hooded-pitohui-the-worlds-first-scientifically-confirmed-poisonous-bird.html

 

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More wildlife related news: Reintroducing Wolves and Beavers to more spots in the Western U.S.  A famous AZ Jaguar sighted in Sonora, and a new study outlining potential suitable habitat here in AZ ( and New Mexico ) for reintroduction of Jaguars.  **All articles courtesy of The Center for Biological Diversity**

https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/new-report-outlines-blueprint-for-rewilding-american-west-2022-08-09/

https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/viva-el-jefe-arizonas-infamous-jaguar-lives-but-whats-his-future-2022-08-04/

https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/scientists-identify-20-million-acre-habitat-area-for-jaguars-in-arizona-new-mexico-2021-03-16/

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