10 de abril de 2024

Pollinators of ONP (Anthophila/Syrphidae) ref

For my reference and that of other people looking at bees and syrphids in the Olympics, here are the results of the 2014 survey. I read this prior to even moving up here, but I haven't been referencing it regularly.

Rykken J. 2018. Measuring and monitoring pollinator diversity along elevation gradients in Olympic and North Cascades National Parks. Natural Resource Report. NPS/NOCA/NRR—2018/1634. National Park Service. Fort Collins, Colorado

Species list at Appendix A starting on p 47 of the PDF. NOCA = North Cascades, OLYM = Olympic.

Quick summary (I'm doing this by hand so sorry if there are any errors). Undescribed species might have been described since publication. Many spp had only one individual collected, which suggests there may be spp that were present with 0 individuals collected.

Hymenoptera spp identified in ONP below 1000'

  • * only below 10' elevation (probably beach site)
  • (Rare) fewer than 10 individuals collected


  • * Andrena columbiana (rare)


  • Bombus bifarius
  • Bombus caliginosus (rare)
  • Bombus flavidus
  • Bombus flavifrons
  • Bombus mixtus
  • Bombus sitkensis (uncommon)
  • Bombus vandykei
  • Bombus vosnesenskii (rare)
  • Nomada sp. 2 (rare)
  • Ceratina acantha (rare)
  • Mellisodes (rare)


  • Hylaeus modestus (rare)


  • Halictus confusus
  • Halictus rubicundus
  • Halictus virgatellus
  • Lasioglossum zonulum
  • Lasioglossum zonulum
  • Lasioglossum
  • Dialictus
  • Evylaeus sp. 6 (rare)
  • Sphecodes sp. 4
  • Sphecodes


  • Megachile perihirta (rare)
  • Osmia densa (rare)

Be sure to check out the paper for the full list since many spp, including Apis mellifera of all things, were only collected above 1000'.

Publicado el abril 10, 2024 04:22 TARDE por wildnettle wildnettle | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

06 de abril de 2024

2024-03-31: First bees of spring at Lake Quinault - Kestner Homestead Trail

Arrived at the ranger station at 3pm, a little late for observing bees. Since this was due to excellent bee activity at July Creek, I couldn't complain too much. Started along the trail and soon saw a white butterfly resting on a salmonberry flower a ways off the trail. Thank goodness for telephoto lenses!

High moth activity; several times moths that were resting near the trail fled before I was able to photograph them. I very much regret not noticing a beautiful large brown moth on a tree trunk right next to the trail before I startled it.

A lot of skunk cabbage in bloom and other hikers said it was an unusually dense bloom. I didn't observe any pollinators on the skunk cabbage.

On down the trail. Several bumblebees circled me to get a good look at me, but none let me get a good look at them. However, I observed more Lepidoptera (and many more escaped my lens) and a wide variety of interesting flies resting in sunny trailside spots near blooming cardamine. I took a rest on a bench and watched sunlight and cloud shadows chase each other across the mossy trunks of old-growth bigleaf maple.

I arrived at Kestner homestead at 5PM, and noted that the wide cleared fields would likely make a good Hymenopteran observing spot later in the season and earlier in the day (there were few flowers at the time). There were also, of course, old buildings and fences. And a beautiful view of the mountains. As I wandered the area in search of bees (got an Andrena on a fence).

Not many bees on this leg of the trip, but with so many excellent flies and far more moths than I actually managed to photograph, I can't regret the adventure.

Publicado el abril 6, 2024 04:13 TARDE por wildnettle wildnettle | 28 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

2024-03-31: First bees of spring at Lake Quinault - July Creek picnic area

Inspired by the iNaturalist Discord's linking of Rod Crawford's field journal, I thought it might be a good idea to write up some of my outings this spring, both to document some of "the ones that got away" and to put some of my best memories into writing. My outings observing are idyllic moments that shine in my memory like jewels on a necklace - all similar, but each a treasure.

It was a gorgeous sunny weekend, and after spending most of Saturday just getting out to the cottage, I was determined to spend Sunday at Lake Quinault. I wasn't sure I'd see any bees - the historical bee observations on the southwest peninsula are pretty thin, and the first bees of previous years were never before April 5. In order to maximize my chances of observing any bees, I brought my 300mm telephoto, 1.4x teleconverter, and some extension tubes. I've used this combination to good effect before to observe fast-moving, shy pollinators in the Sespe Wilderness, so I thought it would serve me well here as well. I also brought a more traditional macro rig in case the invertebrates were better behaved than I expected.

My first stop at the lake was July Creek Picnic Area, where I'd had decent success with invertebrates on a previous outing, including an Ichneumonoid wasp - so I knew it was a good spot for some early Hymenoptera. I wasn't disappointed, either. The rocky streamside revealed a bunch of blooming Petasites frigidus that I could tell from a distance was a hotbed of pollinator activity. The combination of warm sunny gravel and a stand of flowers has always provided me with good bee sightings, especially when combined with water. And, of course, I expect to see more bees where more sunlight reaches the ground, as at lakesides and along roads.

The pollinators fled the flowers as I approached, so I set up with the telephoto a ways away and waited to see if they would return. Most seemed content to look elsewhere while this weird large mammal was in the area, but a few came back either to visit the flowers or rest on the rocks. I observed several bees and syrphids on the flowers, as well as stoneflies by the water.

Once I was no longer getting any new observations on the coltsfoot, I wandered the area to see what else was in bloom and who was visiting it. I saw the salmon berries visited by a few bumble queens, and the red huckleberry (the first I've seen blooming) by several yellowjackets who were moving too fast for good pictures. Moving on down the trail, I found a cleared spot by the bridge full of blooming Bellis perennis. Small insects were zooming industriously around the daisies, and the clear was wide enough for me to avoid blocking the trail (not that anyone else was around), so I knelt down and spent a few minutes observing. My attention was soon drawn to the insects resting on the blackberry leaves across the trail and on the wood of the bridge. A whole lot of similar-looking bees were using the bridge as a sunning spot. I suspected Andrena, and some photos and the help of identifiers confirmed it.

The trail went on into dense woods unlikely to yield good observing spots, and the daisies were still quite active with rather bold insects, so I went back to them, switched to macro gear, and got some good photos of a Hoverfly. Then back to the car (pausing for a dung fly on the daisies in the parking strip) and on to my primary destination for the day, Kestner homestead trail, where observers had posted a variety of blooms the day before.

Publicado el abril 6, 2024 03:53 TARDE por wildnettle wildnettle | 31 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

2024-04-04: Pollinators at Schafer State Park

A beautiful day, so once I determined I could get away with it, I clocked out for a long lunch break and headed over to Schafer State Park. Several picnickers out. I crossed the bridge and headed up the trail alongside the river. All sorts of flowers blooming. Not just the Trillium and Cardamine that I'm seeing everywhere right now, but checkerlily and some buds I couldn't recognize. I'll need to go back to find out what they'll be!

It was a bit cool, and at first I thought I was going to get skunked on pollinators -- until I came upon a stand of blooming Oregon-Grape with daisies beneath it. I spent a good 20 minutes watching the bees and flies at that spot (though most of them were too fast for me, and the bees vacated the Oregon-Grape when I arrived and didn't return while I was there). On the Bellis perennis I saw Dialictus, Pieris marginalis, Bombylius major, and some syrphids I didn't manage to get photos of. On the Oregon-Grape, I saw Bombus, Andrena, and a small syrphid. There were also some dandelions nearby and I was fascinated to notice that nothing visited them.

After determining that I was unlikely to see anything new at that site, I headed a little further up the trail, where I saw what looked like an Andrena approaching some trillium. I watched, curious, but the bee veered hastily off at the last moment. When I approached the flower, I saw a crab spider feasting happily on half a fly.

Further investigation at this site revealed couple lovely little ichneumonids. I photographed one for a little while, then decided against heading uphill - the higher ground seemed a bit windy and it was getting towards time to head back. I returned to the Oregon-Grape stand, pausing to admire a very attractive Red-Breasted Sapsucker. Back at the stand, I found a nice jumping spider and some tachinids.

It was at this point much later than I should have stayed, so with immense regret, I returned to the car and went to finish my work day.

Publicado el abril 6, 2024 09:18 MAÑANA por wildnettle wildnettle | 25 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

2024-04-05: Lake Sylvia State Park

I hoped to take a late lunch break and observe pollinators when the sun came out, but instead of the previously forecast gap in the clouds, 4PM brought rain... as did 5PM. Around 6-6:30 it finally cleared up - too late for pollinators, but time enough for an evening walk in the woods. Since I hadn't been to Lake Sylvia in a couple weeks, I thought it a good idea to go document the status of the bloom. I also wanted to see if there were still newts everywhere in the lake - I saw several on my last visit, but I didn't bring a camera capable of getting good photographs of them out in the water.

Arrived at the lake about 7PM, temperature a little below 50F and the sun low. Paddlers on the water were in sunlight, but both shores were in shadow at the day-use area. Decided to cross the bridge by the dam to see if there were any newts (there weren't). Light in the forest was beautiful, though - late sun barely filtering through the trees.

The redwood sorrel is starting to come into bloom, and many trillium and violets are also flowering. The salmonberries by the lake are still flowering and those in the forest are just starting. Devil's Club is starting to leaf out. No sign of flowers on the red huckleberry.

A lovely evening walk and a few plant phenology data points. I even saw a bumblebee, but I didn't even try to take its picture given how dark it was towards sunset under the trees.

Publicado el abril 6, 2024 08:57 MAÑANA por wildnettle wildnettle | 12 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

12 de marzo de 2024

Favorite observations of 2023

I just noticed that last year I did a fun post of my favorite observations of 2022, but didn’t do anything similar at the end of 2023.

Let’s see… there’s the pareidolia lichen, of course. And my first encounter with Sphex ichneumoneus, a species I had previously admired but never before seen in person. There’s my first loon and my first river otter, and the wonderful brightly fluorescing mushrooms I found along the trail to Irely Lake. There’s the very probable bear that I caught on my trailcam in December (who hasn’t returned since) and the western meadowlarks who visited the wildlife refuge. There’s the Canada jay who perched in front of the trailcam for a while. There are countless wonderful springtails, of course, and a fascinating little myriapod. There’s my first harbor porpoise. There’s the tiny garter snake in my yard. There are some lovely organisms I met tidepooling.

I have a special place in my heart for the snipe I saw at the beaver pond by North Fork Campground, the absolutely silly looking creature. And for the sooty grouse whose deep courtship calls echoed mysteriously through the woods.

How can I forget the beautiful little spider I found on a wind-downed branch of bigleaf maple after a winter storm? Or the weird orange rockslater? Or my first pseudoscorpion?

That isn’t even counting the beavers I didn’t get pictures of, the various owls I heard, the one barred owl who decided to perch directly in front of my car, that I decided not to post to avoid promoting approaching wild owls much too closely.

And 2024 has already had some very exciting observations and sightings as well, and the year’s barely started!

Publicado el marzo 12, 2024 10:14 MAÑANA por wildnettle wildnettle | 21 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de marzo de 2024

Under observation of the most common organisms

Most likely, if you're reading this, you're aware that certain common organisms tend to be underobserved on iNaturalist - common garden weeds, for example.

In Grays Harbor County, where I'm doing a lot of my observing these days, this issue is exacerbated by the fact that a high % of the observations come from people visiting Olympic National Park or the beaches. In more densely populated areas, a lot of the observations of common organisms seem to come from people with low observation counts - possibly including students using iNaturalist as part of K12 science programs. But a high % of the 3130 users with fewer than 100 observations in Grays Harbor county are more prolific in other Washington counties. The result is that there are large areas - even areas that include state parks - where commonly seen organisms have 0-1 observations. Looking at the organism list for a park in Grays Harbor County gives you little idea what you'll see if you visit that park - and plant phenology data has too few data points to be useful.

Apis mellifera has five observations in the entire county - the same number as the American mink.

If you notice a lot of observations of very common species from me this spring, that's because my current project is going to parks in Grays Harbor County and observing the stuff I usually pass over because I know it has most likely been observed many times. That's not true here! I'm also trying to develop a better record of what's blooming at those locations as the spring progresses, and add plant phenology data to existing observations in the county.

(I'm also observing common species in some timberland I have access to that I've heard rumors is slated for logging this year, so that if it does get logged, I can observe the changes in the plant community over time and compare that to a pre-logging baseline)

This is an interesting project for me because I started using iNaturalist in Los Angeles County, which has a very high density of observers. The idea that my observations of common and easy-to-see organisms might significantly change the dataset is rather new to me.

Publicado el marzo 9, 2024 06:58 TARDE por wildnettle wildnettle | 11 observaciones | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

10 de diciembre de 2022

Favorite observations of 2022

Looking at my year in review and thinking about some of the cool organisms I got to observe in 2022 (so far - there's most of a month left!)

In the winter, I found an interesting organism (turned out to be a mold) growing on a mulberry leaf and was able to take a very high magnification focus stack. That was a really fun project. I also did a lot of extreme macro work in the moss in the yard (back in California), and was fortunate to be able to watch an ant find a fungus gnat that appeared to be just emerging. High drama at tiny scale!

While recording audio in the mountains, I came across an incredible event - some hoverflies had found a concrete drainage ditch and were congregating there, sitting on the concrete and vibrating their wings at a fixed rate! They also landed on flat rocks and did the same. I did not observe any of them performing this behavior on softer nearby surfaces such as leaves or dirt, although they did land on these surfaces. I was able to get some good recordings of the interesting tones that they produced. I believe that the sound must have been the point of this behavior, but I can only guess what purpose it may have served.

I got to see some wonderful organisms this summer in California - like the state was giving me a good send-off, I got to see that beautiful tiny threadsnake, TWO solifuges, two lovely ground mantises, my first male black widow, my first webspinner... I also came across a couple rarely recorded insects that I uploaded to bugguide - they weren't observations that I recognized as special at the time, but they got me to start posting images on bugguide, something I'd been too shy to do previously.

Finally, my first springtail portrait that I'm really pleased with from here in WA, a globular springtail commonly found in the Pacific Northwest and not (from what I have seen) found elsewhere. I'm looking forward to spending a lot more time with springtails!

What a wonderful year of observations. I can't wait to see what next year brings!

Publicado el diciembre 10, 2022 04:31 MAÑANA por wildnettle wildnettle | 13 observaciones | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

28 de noviembre de 2022

Single-shot imaging of living Collembola in the field with existing equipment

I've been trying to achieve acceptable detail on springtails at high magnification without spending $1000 on the lens that springtail photographers prefer (that I don't even have a camera body to match anyway). The goal is to be able to clearly and unambiguously distinguish morphological details such as individual ocelli and setae, even on specimens of 1mm or less, when they are in focus. Additionally, the depth of field must be sufficient to locate the springtail, focus the image, and get at least an entire eye (cluster of ocelli) in focus at once. Preferably, it should be possible to achieve reasonable focus on both the eye and front lateral plane in a side view, but that will depend on the size of the individual being photographed.

This won't permit identification of all spp or even all families, but it should at least permit identification of some of the more easily identifiable spp, genera, and families, and should be sufficient for me to start learning more about identifying living springtails in the field without a compound microscope.

I'm also enjoying photographing mites and other small critters, but the springtails are really the focus of this project.

The images associated with this post were taken at Point Defiance Park in the Rhododendron Garden. There were quite a lot of springtails about!

The field of view is about 3.6 mm across, and the depth of field achieved is at least 100 microns. Features of 10 microns or perhaps smaller can be recognized if they're in focus.

Yes, I decided I should try to focus a 100 micron (1/10 mm) depth of field handheld. BECAUSE I'M LIKE THAT. I did it though! A lot of breath-holding was involved.

The "lens" is around 200mm long (but not very heavy) and it is not remotely water resistant. Using this in the field is... a life choice. That I made. For some reason.

Technical details:
I used a 4x infinity microscope objective mounted on a reversed Raynox DCR-150 tube lens, identical to what is often used for focus stacking at high magnification in the studio. However, in order to get some actual depth of field, I added an aperture disk in between the microscope objective and the lens. I spent $10 to buy a set of aperture disks intended for a Lensbaby Composer. This set doesn't have anything between f/5.6 and f/8, so I widened the holes in the f/16 and f/22 objectives to fill the gap. Then the disk is simply taped to the opposite side of the adapter that holds the microscope objective. Black gaffer's tape would be ideal but I just used electrical tape because that's what I have, and it's facing away from all the light sources anyway.

I'm astonished and thrilled that I was able to manage remotely acceptable results with this technique. Did I mention the lens typically used for this task costs $1000, which is $1000 more than I have available to spend on this project?

Publicado el noviembre 28, 2022 04:57 MAÑANA por wildnettle wildnettle | 5 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de noviembre de 2022

Exploring underfoot: Point Defiance Park, Fort Nisqually

On Sunday, I visited Point Defiance Park, which is densely forested and not managed for logging - quite a lot of snags and also many older trees. Good place to see pileated woodpeckers, but I was there to look down, not up.

I observed at several spots close together, and with the iffy GPS reception, I'm not sure there's much point trying to differentiate. If I wanted to be more methodical, I'd have to keep better records of what I observed where. I did notice that the beetle mites (which were very common) were mostly associated with locations containing decaying wood.

I observed mostly on and near the bluffs above the water, so these were fairly exposed locations. On another day I'll see what I can find near the center of the park.

I found different springtails here than I found at the other locations, and I was able to observe several different varieties. That was exciting! I also saw a couple interesting-looking snails and some very cool mites. My favorite observation of the day, however, was a little purple globular springtail - I suspect of a cosmopolitan species - who displayed very actively, seemingly in response to my camera. I have to admire the pluck. Imagine challenging the Death Star to a duel...

The springtail must have won, because my camera and I departed.

Publicado el noviembre 1, 2022 01:17 MAÑANA por wildnettle wildnettle | 20 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario