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 Highlights From Comet Fire Image Pages 1 - 9:      Most Noteworthy Plant & Animal Images 
Comet Fire Post-Burn Image Highlights Page
In My Special Order Of Noteworthiness
Compiled by W.P. Armstrong During Winter & Spring Months Of 2021
Table Of Contents For Short Zoom Presentation

  Category # I. Noteworthy Animals In Pitfall Traps  

  Category # 2. Impressive Snakes Watch Your Step   

  Category 3: Most Impressive Fire-Follower Wildflowers  

  Category 4: Plants In Local Hills Utilized By Native People  

  Category 5: Invasive Fire-Adapted Eucalyptus From Australia  

Category # I. Noteworthy Animals Caught In Pitfall Traps

Leaf-Litter Ant (Stenamma mgb 101)

This is definitely a cryptic ant that is not commonly observed. According to Phil Ward at UC Davis (personal communication, 2021), it has been given the name of Stenamma mgb101. Its compound eyes are small, with less than a dozen ommatidia (facets). By contrast, Argentine ants have 82 to 110 ommatidia, flies have 4,000 to 5,000, and dragonflies have 30,000. Compared with other species, like Argentine ants with millions of workers, Stenamma nests are small with only a few hundred workers or less. In addition, they live in leaf litter and presumedly feed on soil microinvertebrates, so unless you are sifting through leaf litter, you probably won't see one in your lifetime! Since they are essentially subterranean ants, spending their lives in soil, leaf litter and rotting wood, they probably don't need larger multifaceted eyes. This was indeed a surprising ant discovery in coastal sage scrub, one of the most interesting in my ant career since retiring from Palomar College.
    More Common in Moist, Colder Forested Regions of Northern Continents & Middle America 

  16 Ant Species Photographed On Nearby Owens Peak  

Male Trapdoor Spider (genus Aptostichus): ID from iNaturalist

The Following Tarantula Relative Was Roaming In Burned Area

Smallest Baby Solpugid (Sun Spider or Camel Spider): Only 10 mm Long!

Beetles In Burned Area: Blister Beetle

Blister Beetles On Colorful Species Of Desert Wildflowers

Category # 2. Watch Your Step For These 2 Impressive Reptiles

A beautiful southern Pacific rattlesnake: Crotalus oreganus ssp. helleri (syn. Crotalus viridis ssp. helleri). I was surprised at its mild disposition for this species. The red diamond rattlesnake (C. ruber) also inhabits these local hills of coastal sage scrub.

I have walked the 40 acre burned area twice a week since last February. The May 6 walk was especially noteworthy because I shared a charred, monzogranite outcrop with a sizeable red diamond rattlesnake. Mr. Crotalus ruber had no reason to feel threatened and vice versa. We got along just fine. In fact, we had a little photo session! He even crawled up a vertical rock face, a feat I had never seen before.

Category 3: Most Impressive Fire-Follower Wildflowers

Computer generated monophyletic clades based on chloroplast DNA have resulted
in drastic changes to many traditional plant names & which families they belong to.

E.g. Many Wildflowers Once In Snapdragon Family (Scrophulariaceae)
Have Been Moved To Different Plant Families Based On Their DNA!

  Flora & Fauna Of Nearby Owens Peak  

Most Prolific Fire-Follower: Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia var. chrysanthemifolia)

"Whispering Bells" (Emmenanthe pendulifora var. penduliflora).
Fire-Follower & Flipside of "Come Go With Me," 1957 Doo-Wop Hit by Del-Vikings

Red Bush Monkey-Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus var. puniceus)

Scarlet Larkspur (Delphinium cardinale)

Hairy Sun Cup (Camissoniopsis hirtella syn. Camissonia hirtella)

Parry Phacelia (Phacelia parryi)

Caterpillar Phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida)

Two Nighshades (Solanum): White S. douglasii & Purple S. parishii
These 2 Native Wildflowers Are Members Of The Tomato Family (Solanaceae)

Sandmat (Chamaesyce polycarpa) certainly has the smallest flowers in the burned area. What appear to be small white flowers are actually inflorescences containing minute, unisexual male & female flowers. This mat-like wildflower grew in the same area prior to the fire. Another species of sandmat C. albomarginata grows on nearby Owens Peak.

Nuttall's Snapdragon (Antirrhinum nuttallianum ssp. nuttallianum)

Deerweed (Lotus scoparius var. scoparius) = Acmispon glaber var. glaber

Bush mallow (Malacothamnus fasciculatus)

Hairy or Stinging Lupine (Lupinus hirsutissimus)

California Bee Plant (Scrophularia californica ssp. floribunda)

Popcorn Flower (Plagiobothrys collinus var. californicus)

A Prickly Fire-Follower In Phlox Family: (Navarretia attractyloides)

Ground Pink (Linanthus dianthiflorus), Another Member Of Phlox Family. Photo
Taken With Kodachrome Film After Fire Adjacent To Palomar College (Circa 1970s).

Category 4: Plants In Local Hills Utilized By Native People

Another Case For Preserving Our Local Coastal Sage Scrub

Chaparral Yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei syn. Yucca whipplei )

  The Yucca & Its Pollinator Moth  

Night-Blooming Wild Tobacco (Nicotiana quadrivalvis)

Bedrock mortars are found throughout San Diego County, especially where native oaks occur. There are also a few on the hill adjacent to Palomar College. The ones in photo are in the Palomar College Arboretum. Perhaps there were oaks nearby, or other edible seeds and roots were ground or mashed. Native people were definitely in this area long before the white settlers. The coastal sage scrub and nearby grassy hillsides contained a number of edible bulbs and corms, including brodiaeas (Dichelostemma) and golden stars (Bloomeria). Poisonous native bulb species, such as star lilies (Zigadenus), were avoided.

Category 5: Invasive Fire-Adapted Eucalyptus From Australia

  Fire Seeds & Epicormic Sprouting  

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