Fairy longhorn moths, in the family Adelidae, compose a family of monotrysian moths (monotrysia ==> female has a single genital opening for mating and laying eggs ... in contrast with most other Lepidoptera) within the Order Lepidoptera. These moths are widespread across the world, especially across North America and Eurasia. They are considered rather primitive "micromoths"... and all of the species are rather small in size, with wingspans ranging from 4 to 28 millimeters. The males of many of the species have especially long antennae, sometimes 1 to 3 times as long as the forewing.
The Three-stripe Longhorn Moth (Adela trigrapha) is a common, but easily overlooked, diurnal (daytime active) moth that can be found in the grassy-forb, meadow, areas in the oak woodlands of Mendocino County. They are common right now at the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center. The three-stripe longhorn is one of two Adela species having three white bands on the forewing ... the other being the Adela eldorado species. These fairy longhorn moths feed in sunshine on nectar from a variety of wildflowers.
The UC Hopland Research & Extension Center certainly must be one of the few large property ownerships in Mendocino County that is relatively free of Yellow Star Thistle. This noxious weed species is the worst noxious weed pest in California if one looks at the annual biomass production.
HREC has been almost free of this pest for decades due to persistent and diligent control of this species .... however there are still problem spots, especially along the borders of the Center. If you have followed the past BLOG posts, you might recall that we placed a special effort on applying herbicide via helicopter to some of these remote "problem spot" locations. However, on-the-ground follow-through treatments are necessary in order to gain 100% control in these locations.
Here you see Steven Poor, HREC's Principal Agricultural Technician, applying Milestone herbicide to one of these problematic locations in an area that has not been grazed by livestock in over 50 years.
The Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus used to be C.viridis) is the only indigenous rattlesnake species in the Northwest and North Coast regions. However, even though a single species, there are several subspecies and appearances can be quite variable. The local "Northern Pacific Western Rattlesnake" (C.o. oreganus), is the subspecies found here at the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center.
This is the only venomous snake found in the Northwest and North Coast regions ... and all subspecies have relatively short, thick tails with distinctive rattles that the snake can "buzz" when alarmed. Newborn rattlesnakes, about 6 inches in length, only have a single "button" rattle and are silent even when they try to "buzz" their tail.
All have a distinctive tail color pattern of encircling rings of light and dark ... with the more mature specimens having tails that resemble rings of black and white. This tail pattern can look similar to the pattern on the harmless Common Kingsnake. So, if such a snake tail catches your eye ...remember, "IF BLACK AND WHITE IT MIGHT BITE".
These snakes are becoming more active with the warmer weather, and have been commonly found near den sites within the last week here at HREC.
Confined to western North America, the Creamcups wildflower, or Cream Cups (Platystemon californicus), is found in most California counties except for those in the Great Basin and Mojave desert regions. This dainty native wildflower is fairly common in Mendocino County including the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center.
In the family Papaveraceae, this springtime annual wildflower is many times out-competed by exotic annuals, so it is a botanist's delight to see them amongst the rangeland vegetative composition. This gardners delight used to be included in wildflower seed mixes, but is no longer included due to high costs of growing and collecting seed. In the wilds, it can be found in oak woodland, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and Valley grasslands habitats.
I cannot believe that it has been one year since I instigated and began the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center BLOG (HREC BLOG). It was March of 2011 when I first posted a photo of Mission Bells (Fritillaria affinis). At the time I had discovered one of the best concentrations of robust plants that I had ever observed on the Center. So, today I returned to visit the location.
The plants were just as robust as last year, but I was a little too late for the show. Most plants were forming seeds already, with only a few flowers still in display. This perennial native lily is fairly common among the oaks and brushlands, but can easily be overlooked due to its drab blossom colors. The six nodding petals of this inverted-bowl shaped flower vary greatly in color ... from yellowish to greenish-brown to purplish-brown... and usually with maroon-brown spots.
The question is .... when you walk through a patch of Mission Bells is there a sound?