Welcome to the eleventh “Amassing Journey iReport”; this one overlaying a really brief (4 days) journey to northwestern Oklahoma on Might 3–7, 2022. My amassing associate for this journey was long-time pal and hymenopterist Mike Arduser. Mike is among the finest pure historians that I do know and, like me, has a particular love for the customarily ignored fantastic thing about western Oklahoma and its fascinating insect fauna. It had been 13 years, nonetheless—too lengthy, for my part, since our final joint discipline journey once we sampled the bee (Mike) and beetle (me) fauna at The Nature Conservancy’s 4 Canyon Protect in Ellis Co. Thus, I used to be joyful for the possibility to as soon as once more spend a while within the discipline with such a educated naturalist in an space we that each know and love.
As with all earlier “iReports” on this sequence, this report is illustrated solely with iPhone pictures (thus the time period “iReport”). Earlier iReports on this sequence embody:
– 2013 Oklahoma
– 2013 Nice Basin
– 2014 Nice Plains
– 2015 Texas
– 2018 New Mexico/Texas
– 2018 Arizona
– 2019 Arkansas/Oklahoma
– 2019 Arizona/California
– 2021 West Texas
– 2021 Texas/New Mexico/Arizona
Day 1 – Gloss Mountain State Park (Main Co.)
It took a lot of the day to get right here—Tulsa threw us a few obstacles within the type of a construction-mediated incorrect flip and a motorbike engulfed in flames. I’ve been to this space plenty of instances however by no means this early within the season. Skies had been sunny (in contrast to St. Louis once we left this morning), however temps didn’t get a lot above 60°F and even dropped down into the higher 50s earlier than we completed up at sundown.
Surprisingly, regardless of the earliness of the season and funky temps, beating was fairly productive. Working the low areas across the parking zone, I beat a good quantity and variety of beetles and hemipterans—principally chrysomelids—however solely a single Agrilus sp. off of Prosopis glandulosa.
I knew there have been different timber, principally Celtis tenuifolia and Sapindus drummondii, on prime of the mesa and needed to see if something was on them. Bingo! Even earlier than reaching the highest, I beat a number of Agrilus (a number of spp.) from the Celtis, and up on prime I beat fairly a number of extra off the identical. There have been extra mesquite timber up too, off which I once more beat a single Agrilus sp. together with a number of different issues, notably a sequence of ceresine treehoppers. The Sapindus was simply beginning to leaf out, and I discovered nothing by beating them aside from a single ceresine. A notable discover was the pile of larval frass of Plinthocoelium suaveolens (bumelia borer) on the base of a residing Sideroxylon lanuginosum (gum bumelia tree—a certain signal of lively infestation by a beetle I’ve but to formally file from this place.
On the best way again down from the highest, we hit the sundown completely because it “touched” a peak within the foreground! Regardless of my success right here this night, Mike noticed no bees of curiosity on the few flowers that had been discovered as a result of chilly temps and chilling winds, so tomorrow we are going to proceed west hoping for hotter situations on the western fringe of Oklahoma.
Again on the town, we looked for an open sit-down restaurant—fruitlessly due to the late hour—and ended up with a mediocre breakfast burrito from a quick meals store I’ve by no means been to earlier than. The native Buick dealership, nonetheless, with its Nineteen Fifties neon lights shining brightly within the night time sky, was a style of Americana that makes these journeys so gratifying. Life on the highway!
Day 2 – Black Mesa State Park and Nature Protect (Cimmaron Co.)
Welp! We awoke this morning to chilly temps (low 60s), thick fog, and low hanging clouds, and the forecast for the realm confirmed primarily no enchancment by way of no less than the day. Our plan had been to hit a spot about an hour southwest earlier than heading again north to Beaver Dunes State Park, however the forecast for each these areas additionally was chilly and moist. It was not till we appeared on the forecast for Black Mesa—our final deliberate cease of the journey and a 4½-hour-drive to the west—that the forecast gave the impression to be in our favor, so we determined to blast on on the market. We figured we’d get there at about 2:00 pm and will spend the remainder of the day there amassing, camp there tonight, and begin heading again east tomorrow (assuming the forecast improved for the areas we missed).
Mistaken! Once we bought right here, it was not solely cloudy and chilly, however dry as a bone! Even when it had been sunny with hotter temps, there nonetheless wouldn’t have been any insect exercise to talk of. The leaves of oaks and hackberries within the space had been simply barely beginning to break bud, and the one flowers we noticed on the park had been a big willow in full bloom—however not a single insect visiting them. Realizing that there was no different place the place situations had been higher that we may drive to inside the subsequent couple of hours and gather for no less than a short while, we as an alternative determined to make it a climbing day and hike the Excessive Level Path at close by Black Mesa Nature Protect.
We didn’t know the way far we’d make it—simply reaching the highest of the mesa could be a greater than three-mile-hike, and reaching the true excessive level could be one other mile. However, we persevered regardless of the chilly temps and biting wind. We checked the cholla (Cylindropuntia imbricata) alongside the best way hoping to see Coenopoeus palmeri (one of many cactus longhorns, which I’m undecided has been recorded from Oklahoma) or no less than one of many extra widespread Moneilema species, however none had been seen (nor anticipated). The path up the facet of the mesa was steep and spectacular, and the path atop the mesa was surreal—particularly given the chilly winds and low-hanging clouds. Ultimately, we made it to the official excessive level and loved the enjoyable info carved into both sides of the granite obolisk marking the spot.
Coming again down was not a lot simpler than going up, the steepness of the path jamming my toes into the toe field of my new climbing boots (which carried out admirably!), however I did discover an insect—a largish black weevil torpidly crawling on the path [2022-09a]. Even on the comparatively degree decrease portion of the path as soon as we bought there was troublesome, our legs actually beginning to really feel the miles now. As we hiked the final mile again to the automobile, the temperature continued to plummet because it began to sprinkle, turning to rain quickly after we reached the automobile after which heavy rain as we headed down the freeway again to the east. The irony of the state of affairs—rain coming to a parched panorama simply once we are prepared to go away—didn’t escape us. We’ll spend the night time in Boise Metropolis and hope for a greater forecast tomorrow!
Day 3 – Beaver Dunes State Park (Beaver Co.)
Temps had been down within the mid-40s once we awoke this morning, however skies had been sunny and we had been heartened by a promising forecast of continued solar and highs within the low to mid-60s. Our first vacation spot—Beaver Dunes—was a comparatively brief 2-hour drive additional east, and once we arrived sunny skies nonetheless prevailed. Sadly, temps nonetheless hovered within the mid-50s with a biting wind that made utilizing the beating sheet troublesome to unattainable.
That mentioned, I managed to beat a good sequence of Agrilus spp. (most likely principally one species) and some different beetles off residing Celtis reticulata (net-veined hackberry) dotting the roadside alongside the doorway to the Picnic Space. Underneath the principle group of hackberries I observed new development of Cucurbita foetedissima (buffalo gourd) together with final yr’s lifeless stems. I’ve by no means collected Dorcasta vi eres—a longhorns beetle that makes use of buffalo gourd as a larval host), so I started splitting open the previous stems to see if I may discover unemerged adults. I didn’t, however what I did word contained in the stems was proof of boring by some bugs and, ultimately, the tiniest little scolytine (bark beetles) that I’ve ever seen. They had been all the time discovered proper on the node, often in pairs (maybe female and male?), and I ended up amassing a sequence of a few dozen specimens from two completely different stems.
Additionally in the principle group of hackberries, I observed a lifeless department hanging from the tree, which had fallen however gotten snagged on a decrease department to stay off the bottom. The department was clearly infested and confirmed a number of emergence holes indicative of each buprestids and cerambycids, and after I broke into it I discovered two unemerged grownup Agrilus (completely different species), which brought on me to chop and bundle the department to being again for rearing. On the entrance, I went to look at the stand of yellow flowers that greeted our arrival, figuring out them to be Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus (smallflower desert-chicory, Texas false dandelion). Whereas I used to be on the bottom photographing the flowers, I observed a purple and black hister beetle that proved to be Margarinotus bipustulatus—aptly named contemplating the 2 purple maculations on the elytra. I additionally observed a few tiger beetle larval burrows within the hard-packed sandy soul and located an extended, skinny plant stem to “fish” the larvae out. I managed to snag the larva in one of many burrows, which I imagine is Tetracha carolina (Carolina metallic tiger beetle) by advantage of the skinny white margin across the prothorax and the open habitat wherein the larval burrow occurred. If that is true, then it’s a second instar as a result of it’s barely smaller than a typical Cicindela sp. third-instar larva.
Afterwards, I went over to the dunes to see if Mike had discovered something, however temps had been nonetheless too chilly to see something flying. He did, nonetheless, present me an attention-grabbing stand of Penstemon that he’d discovered and that we decided to be P. fendleri (Fendler’s penstemon). The vegetation had been all on the north facet of the dune in apparently protected spots, and I famous that on iNaturalist our statement was the northernmost file for the species (save one suspicious, disjunct Colorado file).
On the best way again to the automobile, I beat a number of extra beetles off residing Celtis reticulata. By now, we’d seen all we would have liked to see right here and determined to move southeast to one of many Brachys barberi places (that had been the rationale for this journey within the first place).
5 mi E of Harmon (Ellis Co.)
Just lately, one other coleopterist collected Brachys barberi—extra sometimes a southwestern species—on Quercus harvardii (shinnery oak) at this spot. I’ve not managed to seek out the species myself but, and because it was collected in Might third that yr I hoped the timing could be proper. Quercus havardii dominated the panorama at this spot, principally as thick stands of low-growing shrubs but in addition as a copse of small timber.
At first, I swept the lowest-growing vegetation, amassing a wide range of principally chrysomelids and curculionids and even one Agrilus sp., earlier than transferring to beating alongside the sunny edges of the patches of taller shrubs and amassing comparable species (however no Agrilus sp.). Simply to the north, I observed a stand of people tall sufficient to be thought-about timber and commenced beating them. Instantly I started amassing not solely the chrysomelids and curculionds that was amassing earlier than but in addition a number of Agrilus spp. and an anthaxiine that have to be Agrilaxia texana—a species represented in my cupboard by simply two specimens that I collected in northeastern Texas approach again in 1984.
I labored practically the complete perimeter of the copse, noticing that a lot of the beetles had been being collected solely on the south-facing sunny (and leeward) facet. After I was nearly able to name it quits, a black and yellow beetle landed on the sheet. For an prompt, I assumed it was a lycid, nevertheless it moved characteristically like a longhorned beetle, and I shortly realized that I had collected Elytroleptus floridanus—a fairly uncommon southeastern U.S. species that I’ve solely seen as soon as earlier than after I reared and particular person from lifeless oak collected within the Missouri bootheel (and representing a brand new state file). I wasn’t certain the species had ever been recorded from Oklahoma, so I discovered Gryzmala’s revision of the genus on-line and noticed that it had been beforehand recorded from the state—however all the best way over on the east facet close to the border of Arkansas. All data from Texas as nicely are from the jap facet of the state, so at present’s seize seems to signify a big northwestern extension of about 300 miles to the recognized geographic vary for this species!
Sadly, I by no means noticed Brachys barberi, however amassing Elytroleptus floridanus (in Oklahoma!) was a fairly good comfort prize.😊
Day 4 – Prologue (“Good to Go” espresso store)
We awoke to vivid sunny skies, and although a tad chilly it was nonetheless hotter than the earlier mornings and with an excellent forecast besides! It took about an hour to drive to the day’s amassing spot—the one and solely Gloss Mountain State Park (the place we visited briefly a number of days in the past to start out the journey), however not till after an surprising and hilariously weird expertise at a creationist espresso store on the town known as “Good to Go”.
Mike was the primary to note the velociraptor within the lounge—saddled up for a experience! Okay, that’s cute. Then he observed the signal on the outside show that learn “Stegosaurs roamed the Earth about 5,000 years in the past.” At first I assumed, okay, they’re just a bit confused on the timeline, however what they’re attempting to say is that dinosaurs lived a very long time in the past.
Then I observed a granite plaque within the background that clearly learn “The Holy Bible”, and it dawned on me that we had entered a creationist’s den! Had we not already ordered our espresso, I might need surreptitiously tiptoed my long-haired hippy butt out of there earlier than any person pointed at me and commenced slowly chanting “Lucifer!”
As soon as we had been exterior the store, our espresso secured and the necessity for hushed tones not muffling our response to the sight, we took a fast stroll with the dinosaurs to admire their seeming scientific accuracy. I used to be impressed with the T. rex particularly, it’s physique axis realistically horizontal with the tail straight and robust—not the lumbering, upright, tail-dragging model that I discovered about as a child. A minimum of they had been accepting a number of the present physique of scientific proof on dinosaurs and ignoring solely that coping with their age—or so I assumed…
The stegosaur as nicely gave the impression to be pretty precisely rendered, its tail additionally straight and robust and a teen trailing intently behind, till I observed one thing atop the grownup—an angel using it! Okay, ‘God’s creatures huge and small’ I assumed.
The coup de grace was the knowledge plaque behind the stegosaur. Relatively than offering info on dinosaurs, I used to be as an alternative handled to a barrage of hilariously unsupported claims advocating the concept people and dinosaurs as soon as lived collectively. Every “factoid” on the plaque was more odd and quotable than the one earlier than. Apparently the grownup stegosaur died 4,000 years in the past within the Nice Flood, however fortunately the infant possible survived by getting a experience on the Ark with Noah! And all that scientific proof that pinpoints the Cretaceous extinction to 65 million years in the past? Apparently it has merely been fabricated as a part of a world conspiracy to cowl up the truth that scientists simply don’t wish to agree with the Bible. I nearly misplaced it, nonetheless, after I reached “It’s unsure if people ever rode Dinosaurs, however there’s overwhelming proof that people noticed residing dinosaurs.” I imply—What?!
Our unplanned morning leisure now performed, we hit the highway for the 40-minute drive to our subsequent—and closing—amassing spot for the journey.
Gloss Mountain State Park (Main Co.)
We arrived at about 10 am with a plan to simply spend the remainder of the day there—whether or not the amassing was good or unhealthy, this might be our closing stand. We hiked as much as the mesa, stopping alongside the best way to work the timber at one intermediate spot (me) or set out pan traps (Mike). Beating the Celtis reticulata yielded the same assortment of beetles as final time—a few Agrilus spp. together with the occasional chrysomelid or curculionoid and some different beetles, and the identical was true with Prosopis glandulosa (with the exception that I didn’t discover any Agrilus this time).
Atop the mesa, I made a decision to do a whole perimeter hike—one thing I’ve all the time needed to do however by no means really completed. The thought was to beat the entire C. reticulata, P. glandulosa, and Sapindus drummondii that I may discover in an effort to “depart no stone unturned” in my quest for beetles. Quickly after beginning out, I noticed a pleasant Pasimachus elongatus floor beetle working throughout the mesa prime and “pressured” it to cooperate for photographs by pinning a hind tarsus to the bottom with my finger tip (barely seen within the higher left facet of the photograph). I collected it, in addition to one other that I noticed a brief distance away, after which proceeded with the beatings! Beating the C. reticulata was fairly productive, with maybe three Agrilus spp. and quite a few different beetles being collected off of practically each tree that I beat. Beating P. glandulosa additionally was productive for numerous beetles, although once more no Agrilus had been encountered. The most important shock got here after I began beating S. drummondii, most of which had been nonetheless within the earliest levels of leafing out. I bought nothing from a lot of the timber (nearly all of which had been clustered in a small copse close to the entrance of the mesa), however within the again a part of the cluster had been a few timber with noticeably extra foliage—beating them yielded maybe a dozen Agrilus limpiae, a soapberry specialist that I haven’t seen in numbers since 1986 after I collected a sequence on soapberry in south-central Kansas.
I not often get something beating Sideroxylon lanuginosum (gum bumelia), however I beat a lot of the timber that I noticed anyway and picked up one cryptocephaline chrysomelid and two curculionoids. A single Eleodes hispilabris (apparently on its final leg) was seen close to the north finish of the mesa, which I photographed and picked up, and on the best way again I encountered a small patch of Sphaeralcea coccinea (scarlet globemallow) in bloom, from the flowers of which I collected a number of small melyrid-type beetles and a small halictid bee for Mike. Additionally on the north a part of the mesa I noticed a younger jap collared lizard (Crotaphytus collaris), who posed simply lengthy sufficient for me to get off a shot earlier than blasting away from my approaching lens.
All through the hike atop the mesa I stored my eye out for “new-to-me” vegetation (of which there are numerous), discovering for the primary time Toxicodendron rydbergii (western poison ivy) and blooming people of Chaetopappa ericoides (rose heath). Physaria gordonii (Gordon’s bladderpod)—a relative of the federally threatened P. filiformis (Missouri bladderpod)—was blooming abundantly atop the mesa. At this level, Mike and I rejoined and relayed to one another our extra notable findings. For Mike’s half, he had seen a few cacti that I had missed—Escobaria missouriensis (Missouri foxtail cactus) and Echinocereus reichenbachii perbellus (black lace cactus)—and took me to the spots the place he had seen them. Whereas retracing our steps, we additionally discovered Gaillardia suavis (pincushion daisy, perfumeballs) and the strikingly lovely Penstemon cobaea (cobaea beardtongue, prairie beardtongue, foxglove penstemon).
By this time, I had been on the mesa prime for 5 hours, and although temperatures had been gentle (mid-70s) I desperately wanted meals and water. I descended the steep slope with its combination of steel steps, lower rock, and wood planks and loved a fast feast of sardines and Triscuits (a decades-long bug-collecting-trip staple) washed down with Gatorade earlier than getting again to work on the mesquite across the parking zone. I used to be dedicated to looking for Agrilus on the vegetation—a single particular person of which I’d crushed from the vegetation three days earlier, and after beating a number of vegetation and seeing none (however amassing a large number of clytrine and cryptocephaline chrysomelids together with different bugs) I lastly discovered one! I continued to work the timber and gather primarily chrysomelids, however no extra Agrilus had been seen. I’m hopeful that will probably be a southwestern species not at the moment recognized from Oklahoma—a state of affairs I’ve discovered with a number of different Prosopis-associated beetles on this a part of northwestern Oklahoma.
I hadn’t meant to work any extra Prosopis past the highway into the parking zone, however there have been a number of notably massive timber alongside the entrance of the park subsequent to the freeway relaxation cease. The primary one I beat yielded a really massive cryptocephaline that I had not seen on any of the opposite Prosopis, so I continued beating them and picked up a pleasant sequence together with a number of different clytrines, pachybrachines, and curculionoids. On the furthest level west, I recalled having seen throughout a earlier go to a western diamondback rattlesnake a bit additional to the west, so I continued to the spot hoping to see one other. No such luck, so I tiptoed by way of the tall grass again to security and made my approach again to the automobile to wrap up seven and a half hours of amassing on a spectacular day—sadly, the final of the journey!
This journey was only a warm-up. In simply over one week, I’ll head out once more—this time to western Texas and southern Arizona for certain, and perhaps elsewhere relying on how issues go. At three weeks, will probably be the longest amassing journey I’ve performed since I went to South Africa in 1999 and Ecuador 10 years earlier than that. I’m additionally wanting ahead to assembly up with plenty of different coleopterists at numerous factors in the course of the journey—Jason Hansen, Joshua Basham, and Tyler Hedlund in Texas, and Norm Woodley and Steve Lingafelter in Arizona. If there’s time, I’ll cease off at a spot or two in northeastern New Mexico and at Black Mesa on the best way again. Search for an iReport on that journey someday in early-mid June!
©️ Ted C. MacRae 2022