Friday, August 07, 2009

Mugu and it's tigers on the run....

Going to visit the insects on Monday!

I took some time to view some restoration sites in the Central Basin mudflat. The area was scraped of the ice plant last year. Ice plant was planted maybe 40-50 years ago, to protect the sand of open dunes and marsh from erosion... except, the natural plants are far superior and offer the animals that are adapted to Souther California, food and shelter... (Why do people think we can do better then nature?) Now, Disticulus sp. (love that name... reminds me Bugs Bunny), Salicornia virginica, Frankenia salina are coming in and... so are the tigers. They were running and jumping and 'freezing' in mid-spin! They stared me down like the ferocious beings they are!

My work at Mugu has allowed me the chance to follow the various species of Cicindela. One tiger, Cicindela gabbi, was thought to not be at Mugu - too far north of its Mexican home. I found it to be the dominant species in the Central basin at Mugu. But, as I was surveying the newly restored site two weeks ago, and watching what I thought were lots of C. gabbi, I was wrong! They were intensely green morphs of Cicindela trifasciata sigmoidea . I took pictures of several... and tomorrow, I will bring some home.

It is hard to catch the tigers on camera - they are very fast.

There is one salt panne in Mugu where I met my first tiger. It contains a small population of C. hemorrhagica hemorrhagica and occasionally, C. oregona. Walking carefully through the panne, the tigers were quite small - smaller then the smallest I have ever caught. Beetles emerge as big as they will ever get. Their growth is dependent on the quality and the quantity of prey they catch and eat as larvae in the soil. I am wondering if this group just did not have enough good prey food last year (numbers or poor quality)..... Here is a shot of one of the tigers in the small panne. Beautiful, just the same. I will bring some of these home, too, and compare these new tigers next to my older specimens.