Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Strange, Awesome and Anomalous Creatures at Forest Lake

          As Fall draws near, and winter approaches just as steadily, I often find myself pondering past collecting experiences in the more "bug productive" part of the years. Around July of 2011, I had a great hike from Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake City County, to Aspen Grove in Utah County, Utah. Roughly 30 miles, up and down rocky hills, edging around some of the most beautiful mountain sides for three straight days with limited water, really keeps me in tune with humility.

I definitely wasn't checking every nook and cranny for bugs (as I was more focused on the Pearly Gates of Aspen Grove), but I did collect some goodies. Two nice Judolia (gaurotoides?) showed up along my path. But to see all the other life teaming together in the warm sunny dales of the Wasatch Mountains, was very soothing (despite my aching legs). On the second night, I came to a small lake called Forest Lake. And the critters swimming around in this murky lake were anything but "along my path." Along with hundreds of, what I am guessing to be Ambystoma tigrinum (Tiger Salamander) larvae (as seen here), there was a good number of Acilius semisulcatus.

Acilius semisulcatus Aubé -Male
Missing tip of right eletron,
perhaps bitten off by a Tiger Salamander?

After the photo taking of these guys, I noticed small pieces of lint scattered on their dorsal sides. I really hate this. Non the less, you can see why splashing around with so many strange Forest Lake creatures, (no more bizaar than I), was worth getting a couple specimens.

Acilius semisulcatus Aubé -Female

The sexual dimorphism is pretty clear in this species. If you look closely at the male, you can see his front tarsi modified to suctioning onto the females rather ridged, aquadynamic elytra during copulation.

As I mentioned in my "Cicindela nebraskana Loves Northern Utah" post, many of my old pictures have been lost. This, including the pictures from my little expedition. Luckily, I found a good picture for y'all off the web.

Forest Lake

The summary the link gives for this lake says:

"This lake, with its muddy waters, is not a recreation spot where you want to fish or swim, but it sits in the middle of a tree-lined basin that is green in the summer and changes colors in the fall."

I swam, fished for Acilius, and used this water as fuel for the last 10 miles of the hike... I turned out fine, right???

I can hardly wait to return to this spot, of course taking an easier rout this time around. I'll also have more than just my hands to catch this species next time. Maybe even a chance at photographing some live ones. Oddly, there were no Tigers on the shore. But make no mistake, these diving beetles make up the predatory difference. I'm not sure how much their mandibles would damage human skin, but I was cool with not finding out.

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