Monday, April 1, 2013

Beetles and Amphibians at Merced River

      Last week, my family and I were spending some time up in the mountains. (Well, half MOUNTAINS and half B 'n' B in the high foothills. Both turned out great for bugs, so I'm not complaining). On Friday, we spent 2-3 hours relaxing at McCabe Flate along the Merced River (Mariposa County) to eat, watch the river, and for those of us who wanted: bug collect. That's just what we did.
Merced River near McCabe Flat Campground

Sam was having quite some success with bees, but I had only been able to find a few species of beetles: Cantharidae and Lytta. The former I didn't personally care to pin up later, but the latter, belonging to the family of Blister Beetles, usually catch my interest and with Lytta, you can never go wrong.

Lytta refulgens Horn

Sam has the works on most of Lytta, but instead of being patient, I searched through some field guides and websites; but I found no remote matches. I then cropped two of my best shots and put them on Bugguide. Later I received a response stating that John D. Pinto (A Meloidae expert) had reviewed the pictures and put a confident ID on the unique bug: Lytta refulgens Horn. I was informed that these are "uncommonly" collected and was excited when I later learned that this species is restricted to the Foothills of central/southern California.

Well, she ate that fast!

It was also pretty cool to find these flying around:

Bittacus chlorostigma MacLachlan, 1881
Order: Mecoptera (Hangingflies and Scorpionflies)

This was far from the end our our findings. 30 minutes down the trail (or 3 if you're not collecting/photographing) we discovered some nice little ponds which opened up a new realm of biodiversity.

Sierra Newt (Taricha torosa sierrae)

This next photograph is what looks to be the introduced Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeiana) but it is far out of that species size range for an adult. My next thought would be the Foothill Yellow-legged Frog (Rana boylei) which, for a variable species, fits the most. It is also the only species of that genus which occurs in that area, other than the California Red-legged Frog, which does not look nearly as similar. The Foothill Yellow-legged Frog is federally endangered, and quite sadly, they may not be around for much longer. Here is a link that could help you decide an ID for the fella if you so choose. If you have a confident ID, I'd love to here it.

Foothill Yellow-legged Frog (Rana boylei)(?)
Federally Endangered

Lastly, I found some Turkey Tail fungi. This came at a good time because I was getting tiered of trying to get decent photographs of moving targets!

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

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