Monday, December 31, 2012

Icaricia lupini monticola

This is a picture of an individual of Clemence's blue that I found this last July in a mountain meadow south of Sequoia National Park. The elevation was around 7,000 feet.

This has been recognized as a subspecies of the lupine blue because there is a good deal of variaility between populations of the species. This population is particularly attractive with the coppery blue wings. The picture of the meadow is in the Freeman Creek Grove area.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Neduba sierranus

The Yosemite shieldback katydid (Neduba sierranus) is a Sierra Nevada specialty. Unlike its commoner green counterparts that we typically associate with late summer evenings (and that occasonally feed on unprotected citrus fruit) this brown species has no wings and is not green. And it can be active quite late in the year even in the snow.

We found this one hopping across the road in Sequoia National Park during the week of Thanksgiving. There was snow not far away - we were at an elevaton of about 7,000. This particular individual is a mature female. Notice the serrated ovipositer (egg-laying device) behind.  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Ceruchus Stag Beetles of North America

We have three species of the stag beetle genus Ceruchus in the United States. They live under the bark of dead trees and are fairly small as stag beetles go (less than an inch long). they are often overlooked in the field because of their superficial resemblance to ground beetles or darkling beetles.  Open closer inspection, however, they are easily recognized as stag beetles with their lop-sided clubbed antennae. Another stag beetle genus that looks somewhat like Ceruchus is Platycerus (and related genera). Ceruchus can be separated from these groups by the relatively straight antennae. In Platycerus the first segment of the antennae connect to the remaining segments at a right angle (we call this arrangement geniculate).  In Ceruchus the segments follow each other without an angle. (Look closely at the image of C. punctatus. You can see the antenaae right at the base of the pronotum. The small segments arise from the end of the longer first segment that is just visible. Don't be confused by the curving of the segments near the club. This is typical of most stag beetles.)

One species (C. piceus) occures in southeastern Canada and throughout the northeastern part of the US. The color of this species is variable but is often has a bit more reddish color to it than the deep black which is typical of the genus.

Ceruchus striatus and C. punctatus occur in the western US. Their names are pretty diagnostic. Ceruchus striatus has clear and deep striae (the grooves down its back) whereas C. punctatus lacks the deep striae and has more obvious punctures.

Ceruchus striatus is fairly restricted to Washington, Oregon and parts of British Columbia (with some records in outlying areas). Ceruchus punctatus also occurs in these areas but can be found more commonly in California and Idaho.