Tag Archives: Natural History

The Checklist: New 2017 Edition

I’ve made some corrections and additions to Plants of the Bodie Hills: an Annotated Checklist, based on some fieldwork and other research during 2016. CLICK HERE to visit the Downloads page. The January 2017 edition of the checklist is a 47-page, 5.1 mb PDF file. [UPDATE, January 16: A few more typos corrected. You may want to download again if you downloaded prior to 1-16-2017.]

Checklist Cover 2017

The Bodie Hills encompass about 417 square miles in northern Mono County, California, western Mineral County, Nevada, and southern-most Lyon County, Nevada. The checklist includes 679 taxa of vascular plants, of which 575 are definitely known to occur in the Bodie Hills and 104 others are considered likely to be present. The list includes 52 families of dicots, 15 families of monocots, and 8 families of vascular cryptogams.

Travertine Hot Springs

Travertine Hot Springs has extensive alkaline wet meadows and dry outcrops.

Cinnabar Canyon

Cinnabar Canyon contains pinyon-juniper woodland and an unusual wet meadow.

Bodie Mountain

Bodie Mountain supports high-altitude sagebrush scrub with lots of
cushion plants and several alpine species.

Bodie

Bodie is in the south-central Bodie Hills.

 


Copyright © Tim Messick 2017. All rights reserved.
DOWNLOAD THE CHECKLIST

Why did the Sage Hen Cross the Road?

Certainly not to impress me with it’s survival skills. I was driving toward Bodie on Highway 270, west of Murphy Spring. As I rounded a bend, the bird you see here was ambling slowly, very slowly, across the road. Whether from confusion, fright, defiance, or an instinct to be still and blend in, it was in no hurry to move out of my way, despite the lack of cover.  Fortunately, there was no one behind me. I slowed to a stop and let it toddle off the road.

Around the next bend, sometime earlier that morning, another sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) had not been as lucky as this one.


Copyright © Tim Messick 2015. All rights reserved.

Hemileuca Larvae: Do Not Touch!

On a recent hike near Carson Pass in Alpine County, I encountered this critter crawling vigorously across a dry swale in the subalpine dwarf-shrub steppe at 8,900 feet.

Hemileuca heraHemileuca hera larva

It was about the size of my little finger and was about to disappear under an Eriogonum, so I coaxed it onto a stick and moved it to a large rock, where I took pictures while it resumed its ascent toward Red Lake Peak. The spines all over its body made it look about as fun to handle as a cholla cactus or porcupine, so I used the stick to prevent any direct contact.

That was a good thing, because on doing an image search in Google and checking further on Butterflies and Moths of North America and Bug Guide, I narrowed it down to Hemileuca hera, the Hera buck moth or Sagebrush sheep moth. The larvae of Buck moths and the related Io moths (both Saturniids) are well known for the extremely painful, persistent, burning, swelling stings produced when the spines inject their toxin into your skin.

Hemileuca habitatHemileuca hera habitat

An article on the University of Florida’s Featured Creatures site advises that “Not handling caterpillars that have spines is one of the best ways to avoid receiving stings.” Obvious, but sensible advice. Should you, however, inadvertently come into contact with one of these beautiful creatures, the wound should be treated by “washing the site immediately in order to remove any loose spines that might be present. The site should be allowed to dry without the use of a towel. Any remaining spines should then be removed with an adhesive such as duct tape. Finally you can apply ice packs to the site to relieve some of the pain.”

Hemileuca hera has been seen in the Mono Basin and it ranges across much of the Intermountain region, so it is likely to be present in the Bodie Hills. The larvae feed on sagebrush. The adults have striking white and black patterns on their wings.


Copyright © Tim Messick 2015. All rights reserved.