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Broad Winged Katydid Nymph
Location:  Mt Washington, Los Angeles, CA
May 20, 2012
At the end of last month, we photographed this Broad Winged Katydid Nymph in our garden and we did not have an opportunity to post the photo.  Though they feed on leaves, we do not consider Katydids to be a pest species since they feed individually and they do not do any lasting damage to the plants they feed upon.

Broad Winged Katydid Nymph

August 4, 2011
We walked back to the Milkweed Meadow in Elyria Canyon Park this morning to check on the status of the two Monarch Caterpillars,
Danaus plexippus, thinking that they might have transformed into chrysalides, but I could only find one of the caterpillars.  Hopefully the other was just elsewhere, or perhaps it found a nice place to metamorphose into a chrysalis

Monarch Caterpillar

A very wary Bumble Bee would not let me get close enough with the camera, and after several aborted attempts, we were lucky enough to get a few photos.  This is most definitely not a Yellow Faced Bumble Bee.  We were not able to get any photos of the abdominal markings until the last image.

Crotch’s or California Bumble Bee???

Just as it was flying off it showed its signature markings, but interestingly, it doesn’t match any of the images on BugGuide for the four species that Charles Hogue, in his landmark book Insects of the Los Angeles Basis, indicates are found locally.  After a bit more searching, we determined it might be Crotch’s Bumble Bee, Bombus crotchii, based on the illustration on the North American Bumble Bees and confirmed on the third photo down on the Las Pilitas Nursery webpage, and that appears to agree with this BugGuide image as well.  The Discover Life website also has photos.  Continued research is filling us with doubts.  It seems to match what we identified as a California Bumble Bee when we found one napping on the wisteria this spring.

Crotch’s or California Bumble Bee???

There appeared to be more Large Milkweed Bugs today than on Sunday, and there were several places where the Milkweed Aphids, AKA Oleander Aphids, Aphis nerii, were quite plentiful.  Read more about Milkweed Aphids on BugGuide.

Milkweed Aphids

Before leaving, I made sure to pull some more Marestail or Horseweed, Conyza species (See Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide or CalFlora) and more of that prickly yellow flower that is still not properly identified that might be a Spiny Sowthistle, Sonchus asper (See Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide).

Update:  on the Bumble Bee identity
August 5, 2011
Now we aren’t certain if the Bumble Bee is a California Bumble Bee or a Crotch’s Bumble Bee.

Update:  August 7, 2011
I returned to the Milkweed Meadow in Elyria Canyon Park to search for the Monarch Chrysalis, but the only caterpillar I could find has still not metamorphosed. 

Monarch Caterpillar in Elyria Canyon, August 7, 2011

I did get some additional photo of the Bumble Bee as well.  Here are the abdominal markings from a different angle.

Which Bumble Bee is it? Crotch’s or California???

Update:  August 11, 2011
I made a trip to the Milkweed Meadow in Elyria Canyon Park this evening about 6:30 and I was unable to find any Monarch Caterpillars.  I hope they wandered away from the milkweed to find a suitable location to transform into chrysalides.  I photographed a couple of Large Milkweed Bugs. 

Large Milkweed Bugs

The new addition to the insects that have become part of the milkweed ecosystem are Small Milkweed Bugs.  I found them  on two different milkweed plants. 

Small Milkweed Bugs

The individual I photographed was a difficult subject, and it kept hiding among the blossoms of the milkweed inflorescence.  I needed to intervene by including my hand in the photo to get a nice angle on the unwilling subject.

Small Milkweed Bug






July 31, 2011
Each month, on the fourth Sunday of the month, the Mt Washington Beautification Committee, co-hosted by Clare Marter Kenyon and Daniel Marlos, meets at 9:30 AM near the Red Barn in Elyria Canyon State Park.  Clare takes the lead with native plant germination in the nursery and Daniel goes out weeding in areas that need special attention.  This month the weeds that were targeted were invasive Conyza and an unidentified yellow thistle type plant.  Daniel is especially concerned about invasive weeds crowding out the native milkweed.  Elizabeth is seen pulling weeds from around the milkweed. 

                            CLICK TO ENLARGE                         Elyria Canyon Work Party August 28, 2011

There is a wealth of insect life on the milkweed.  Daniel saw two Monarch caterpillars of approximately the same age.  They were on two different plants about ten feet apart.

Monarch Caterpillar 20110731 AM

Two different caterpillars were photographed in the morning, but in the afternoon, only the one feeding on the leaves was photographed.  The other Monarch Caterpillar was feeding on blossoms.  The detail that is missing from the live experience in the static photo is the twitching of the front fleshy pseudo-antennae.

Monarch Caterpillar 20110731 PM

While they were not plentiful, adult Large Milkweed Bugs, Oncopeltus fasciatus, were found singly or in pairs on the blossoms. 

Large Milkweed Bugs

One pair was caught In Flagrante Delicto.

Large Milkweed Bugs Mating


…  And the last of the insects found on the Indian Milkweed, Asclapias eriocarpa, were the yellow Milkweed Aphids.

Milkweed Aphids are tended by Argentine Sugar Ants

If you live in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Mt Washington, or nearby Highland Park, Glassell Park, Eagle Rock, South Pasadena, Atwater Villiage or Silverlake, and you want to volunteer some time on the fourth Sunday of August, come join us.  Most of our volunteers walk in from various entry points to Elyria Canyon Park, but there is one small parking lot at the end of Wollum Street near the intersection of Division Street.  Park in the lot and walk up the path.  When the path divides, take the right path and wind uphill through the trees.  When you get to the crest, you should be able to see the Red Barn down below.  Stay on the paths to avoid poison oak.  Take note that there is a gate on Bridgeport Drive, and we do not recommend parking there to drive to Elyria Canyon Park.  If you would like additional information, please leave a comment.




April 15, 2011
Last Friday, Daniel noticed this Diabolical Ironclad Beetle,
Phloeodes diabolicus, nestled into a crevice in the asphalt paving of the street along side the Mt. Washington WTB? offices.  It seems the beetle was attempting to cross the road.  With most insects, this might be a dicey proposition since getting run over by a car would mean squishing, however, the Diabolical Ironclad Beetle has a very hard exoskeleton.  It would most likely survive being run over by a vehicle.  The Diabolical Ironclad Beetle played dead during the photo shoot, and it was eventually released in the garden among the logs.  See BugGuide for more photos of Diabolical Ironclad Beetles.

Diabolical Ironclad Beetle

As an aside, we will be out of the office for several days, and no new identification requests will be answered during our absence.  We can say with some confidence that any emails that arrive between April 20 and April 26 might not get a response.  However, we will be preparing daily automatic postings in our absence.

Diabolical Ironclad Beetle


Great Golden Digger Wasp

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
While working in the yard, we couldn’t help but notice the three Great Golden Digger Wasps, Sphex ichneumoneus,  that were gathering nectar from the blooming onions.  Is it any wonder we have a healthy population of these wasps?  There are plenty of Katydids in our garden to provide a bounteous  food source for the young.  According to BugGuide:  “Female digs burrow almost vertically. Cells are dug radiating out from central tunnel. Larvae are provisioned with crickets, camel crickets, katydids (long-horned grasshoppers). One paralyzed prey is placed in each cell, and one egg is laid on it. One generation per year.

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Great Golden Digger Wasp

These Great Golden Digger Wasps are most active in their quest for nectar.  We had to be most patient in our attempts to capture these images.  We lament that we were unable to get a good image of the three Great Golden Digger Wasps together.

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Great Golden Digger Wasp

We have been watching two Great Golden Digger Wasps, Sphex ichneumoneus, in our Mt. Washington vegetable garden as they gather nectar from our onion blossoms. They are rather possessive of the blossoms and try to chase one another away. This is a new species in our garden and we are most excited about their presence. Every year, we get numerous Katydids that eat our roses, and hopefully, the Great Golden Digger Wasps will help control the Katydid numbers.