Saturday, March 24, 2012

Celastrina ladon

This is the spring azure (Celastrina ladon) that Michael, Drew and I came across three weeks ago on a hike to Marble Falls in Sequoia National Park (above Visalia). There were several bouncing above (and lapping from) a mineral rich seep on the trail.

 The butterfly is a member of the gossamer-winged butterfly family Lycaenidae - comprised of the smallest butterflies in our fauna. This one is a Western species that can be seen on warm days in the spring - usually in mountain areas at lower elevations. They are quite delicate, and with a good look, quite captivating. 

Marble Falls itself is a beautiful place. The spring run-off made for quite a cascade. The pool here by Michael looks like a great place to take a swim in July. It's a bit over 4 miles from the trailhead (that starts at Potwisha Campground). Although I can't vouch for it still being full and deep later in the year.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Imantodes cenchoa

The blunt-headed tree snake, Imantodes cenchoa, is a startling creature to stumble into at night. My encounter with this individual occurred a couple of years ago on the Osa Peninsula (in June) in southern Costa Rica. There were no sounds of rustling leaves or slithering scales from the ground. This snake came winding (silently) out of a tree, passed along an available branch and spread its full body over an enormous leaf a few feet from my disbelieving stare.

You would think that an experienced entomologist would be unflinching under such circumstances – and indeed my hunting instincts become fully active upon hearing the low buzz of a night-flying beetle. But snakes are different. When I see them unexpectedly, they can give me the spooks. Fortunately I recovered in time to take a picture. It’s an impressive creature, for sure.

The picture of the coast was taken the next day about a mile from where we found the snake.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Odonteus obesus

Odonteus obesus is one of the two species of geotrupid scarabs most likely to be found in the Sierra Nevada (of California). It is about a centimeter long, is nearly black, and sports (in males) a prominent horn on its head. This individual is a female with little cephalic armature.

It came to a light last June at an elevation of about 5,000 feet near Shaver Lake (Dinkey Creek Campground) above Fresno. These compact scarabs are always fun to find.

The habitat was mixed Jeffrey pine, incense cedar and Douglas fir.