|Skywatching Notes||Plant Notes||Invertebrate Notes||Vertebrate Notes|
Marine or Estuarine Invertebrates
The "Other Nature Notes" column for nonbird field observations began in May 1994; previously, there were occasional articles about animals other than birds. Based on observations shared by observers, Range Bayer compiled this column through 2000, and Kathy Merrifield began writing the column in 2001. If you have any observations to share, email them to her.
Unfortunately, Range has lost his computer files for the Sandpiper prior to September 1994, so earlier notes would have to be scanned and converted to text. Below, Range has re-organized and done some editing of "Other Nature Notes" columns from September 1994 and some columns only about dragonflies. Notes are organized by plant or animal group.
Note that these are incidental observations and were not meant to be comprehensive. Nevertheless, there is so little information available about many of these plants or animals in Lincoln County that these notes provide information that is not otherwise available. Some notes are from Neskowin in Tillamook County or coastal Lane County because the observers were Yaquina Birders & Naturalists members.
Common names may be capitalized or not, although it is preferred to have only one style.
To save bandwidth, this material has been subdivided into four files:
|Skywatching Notes||Plant Notes||Invertebrate Notes||Vertebrate Notes|
Some Lincoln Co. site locations: Bayshore Beach=ocean beach along north Alsea Bay Spit, Bayview Pasture=field east of junction of Beaver Creek Road and North Alsea Bay Road, Beaver Creek=creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, Coquille Point=SE Corner of Sally's Bend, Driftwood Beach State Park=park about halfway between Seal Rocks and Waldport, Eckman Lake=lake just east of Waldport along Hwy 34, HMSC=OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, Idaho Flats=large embayment just east of HMSC, Lost Creek State Park=park about 4.75 mi south of Yaquina Bay Bridge, Mike Miller Park=county park just easy of HWY 101 in South Beach, Ona Beach State Park=park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay Bridge, Sallys Bend=large embayment east of the LNG tank at Yaquina Bay, Sandpiper Village=residential area west of HWY 101 and north of Waldport, Seawoods=residential area just north of Patterson State Park, Thiel Creek=creek about 3.5 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge, Tidewater=about 8 mi east of Waldport, Wandemere=about 0.5 mi north of Ona Beach along Hwy 101.
Vicki Osis has an Oregon Sea Grant article Velella velella.
There are two forms of Velella with different sail orientations that are possible to find on Oregon beaches. They are illustrated in Figure 1. The expected NW form is relatively close to shore from Baja California to British Columbia (Favorite 1972). The NE/SW form of Purple Sailors are uncommon to rare here but are more common south of 40 N and west of about 120 W (Favorite 1972).
Note that if you turn these drawings upside down, this difference in sail direction is still true because these two forms are mirror images of each other. One way to recall which form is to be expected here is to remember that "Velella in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) mostly have NW sails."
After Velella have been on the beach for a while, they begin having a dead fish smell. When windrows of them have washed up, the smell can be strong enough that many people and even newspapers note them.
Note About Purple Sailors (Velella velella) at Beverly Beach, North of Newport, Oregon by Range Bayer (5/3/1997)
I monitored about 2.8 miles of beach between Yaquina Head and Beverly Beach from 1986-1990. I found Purple Sailors mostly in the spring, but they were not present every year (Table 1).
Most Purple Sailors had their sail from the NW to SE corners (Fig. 1, Table 2), as is predicted for this area by Favorite (1972); a mnemonic way to remember this is that we live in the Northwest, and almost all Purple Sailors have their sail from the Northwest corner. On 18 May 1988, Rick Callaghan (pers. comm.) also found a NE Velella at Idaho Flats, just east of the Hatfield Marine Science Center, which is about when I found the greatest percentage of NE Velella near Beverly Beach (Table 2).
I measured but have not yet compiled data about Purple Sailor length, which seemed to increase from April through July, and their density (numbers per meter of beach).
The stranding of Velella along the coast of Lincoln County is not a recent event as I remember reading a Waldport newspaper describing such a stranding in the 1950's. The strandings can be widespread, too, as during aerial goose surveys, Roy Lowe (pers. comm.) saw large amounts of Velella from Newport to Coos Bay on 10 April 1996 that at places were so large that they appeared to be oil slicks.
Favorite (1972) is particularly informative, though hard to obtain and is not apparently available on the Internet.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------FIGURE 1. Top view of Purple Sailors.
"NW Form" "NE Form" NW/SE (typical here) NE/SW (rare here) (sail from NW corner to SE) (sail from NE to SW) NW____ NE NW _____ NE /\ \ / / \ | \--|---------Sail----------|----/ | | \ | | / | \ \/ \ / / SW ----SE SW ---- SE ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------TABLE 1. Timing of fresh Velella found during beach walks along 2.8 miles of beach between Yaquina Head and Beverly Beach.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Year Fresh Velella 1986 April 27-July 15 1987 April 9-July 29 1988 April 3-July 5 1989 April 1-2 1990 (none) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------------------------TABLE 2. Number and percentage of Velella along 2.8 miles of beach between Yaquina Head and Beverly Beach during 1986-1989 and along a Newport beach in 1993 that had the "sail" running from the NE to the SW corner.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Total Date of Velella NE/SW Form Beachwalk Examined Number % ---------------------------------------------- 1986 July 13 384 0 0 1987 April 16 656 4 0.6 May 2 and 6 2,500 0 0 May 31 500 0 0 July 8-29 1,488 0 0 1988 April 3 500 0 0 May 7 400 10 2.5 May 8 500 0 0 May 15 500 42 8.4 May 22-June 5 1,804 0 0 July 5 100 0 0 1989 April 2 500 0 0 1993 April 13 1,000 0 0 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Favorite, F. 1972. A mass stranding of Velella: sailors by the whim of the wind. Pacific Search 6:12-14.
Francis, L. 1985. Design of a small cantilevered sheet: the sail of Velella velella. Pacific Science 39:1-15.
Kemp, P. 1986. Deposition of organic matter on a high-energy sand beach by a mass stranding of the Cnidarian Velella velella (L). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 23:575-579.
Ward, D. E. 1981. By-The-Wind-Sailors: Victims of their Environment. Portland, Oregon, Oregonian, August 16, p. 19 of the Northwest Section.
In 1995, Velella were found at Bandon (Coos Co.) on 4/9 and 10 (Roy Lowe), near Cape Lookout (Tillamook Co.) in mid-April (Dave Pitkin), and along Thiel Creek beaches in mid-April (Bob Loeffel). Eileen Hoog saw many beached between Road's End and Lincoln City in April, and Dave Pitkin found them between Seal Rocks and Alsea Bay on 5/3.
On 4/10/1996, Roy Lowe was conducting an USFWS aerial survey of Aleutian Canada Geese from Newport south to Crescent City and found the following: "Varying, but usually large amounts of fresh Velella occurred in the high tide wrackline from Newport to Coos Bay. South of Coos Bay only a small amount was seen on the beach at the mouth of Elk River. There was a very large slick of Velella just off of Cape Arago and a thin slick several miles long just off Heceta Head to Tenmile Creek. I call these slicks because if you have never seen one you would bet money that they are oil slicks. In fact, I talked with the Coast Guard [on 4/11], and they had three false reports of oil spills in Oregon [on 4/10]. One of them was 35 miles west of Astoria and was 150 yards wide and 7 miles long! That's a lot of jellyfish."
In 2001, Nadine Wade found that thousands of deep-sea-dwelling Velella had been washed ashore along the central Lincoln County coast on December 1-2. The beached, dried, cellophane-like remains of this jellyfish relative consist of an oblique, upright half-oval plane arising perpendicularly from a flat, oval, horizontal base. At Driftwood Beach on 12/9, the highest waves of the latest high tide were still outlined by Velella, and a few remained there even as late as 12/23 (Kathy Merrifield). Because of the orientation of the upright half-oval "sail," the form of Velella off our shores tends to tack 45 degrees to the left of the wind direction. (Those in the western Pacific have sails oriented in the opposite direction.) Light southerly breezes keep Velella away from shore, but the system breaks down when the wind is strong: the animal then spins rapidly and is driven that wind's direction. Many Velella thus appear on Oregon shores after strong southerly or westerly winds.
In 2002, low densities of Velella were freshly washed up on the beach at Lost Creek on Jan. 21, but these must have been young: they were only about 15 mm long (Kathy Merrifield).
In 2003, Michael Noack saw about 11 Velella (By-the-Wind Sailor or Purple Sailor) on Driftwood Beach on March 20. During the afternoon of March 23 on the beach near Thiel Creek, the wind turned westerly, and there were thick layers of Velella velella in some places (Laimons Osis). In a valiant effort to keep the coast clean during his beached bird walk, Laimons removed 3 glass floats from the beach. On the beach at Gov. Patterson State Park south of Waldport during low tide on March 30, Jamie Simmons noted thousands, perhaps millions, of the Purple Sailors up on the beach near or at the high tide line, apparently mostly well-dried. Strong winds from the west on April 2 washed many items onto the Seal Rock beach, including lots of Purple Sailors that were being brought in with every wave and 6 glass floats (Dave Pitkin).
In March 1995, Sand Dollars are uncommon to rare on Lincoln Co. beaches, but for some unknown reason, Roy Lowe found many about the size of a quarter near the Alsea Bay Port Dock! Was it all the rain??
In 2001, while tidepooling at Yaquina Head on 3/16, Jennifer Weiss and kindergartners from Nature Discoveries School in Toledo discovered a giant Pacific Octopus. It was not giant, however; it was definitely a baby, writes JW. Its tentacles couldn't have been longer than 1 foot. It put on quite a show for them. It was in fairly shallow water moving about as if searching for prey. At one point, it had half its head out of the water. When it propelled itself back to a rock for cover, the entire animal appeared to be about 2/5 ft long at most. The whole time, it was less than 10 feet away from the group. Needless to say, they were all mesmerized!
In 2001, a tremendous aggregation of jellyfish, presumably Pacific sea nettles, sat off Wandemere where seated observers at Rebecca Cheek and Walt Nelson's home sat during their 10/14 Big Sit [birdwatching event]. The jellies' even longer sit continued through 10/15, when they sat in a continuous 20-foot wide red-brown band on the ocean surface just west of the surf zone as far north and south as RC and WN could see - while seated, at least.
On both 12/9 and 12/23/2001, many small jellyfishes were freshly washed up on Driftwood Beach (Kathy Merrifield). Their sizes varied, but none were wider than 2 cm (yes, CENTImeters) in diameter.
It was just heavy surf on 5/29/2002, but it
produced up the kind of wrack that typically follows storms (Kathy
Merrifield). The sand between Seal Rock and Ona Beach held a fairyland
of Neat Stuff. Single hunks of big brown algae, some complete with
holdfasts, and one Gordian tangle of Macrocystis (giant kelp) accompanied
Fucus ("rockweed"), Postelsia ("sea palm"), and Alaria encrusted with
hydrozoans, bryozoans, and barnacles. One Postelsia holdfast completely
engulfed those of two small Alaria, suggesting a dramatic growth rate.
The 5/29/2002 beach display also featured pelagic goose barnacles anchored to free-floating substrates including Fucus, Postelsia, Halosaccion (a yellowish-grown sac-shaped red alga), driftwood, tufts of filamentous green algae, and itself. Among the flotsam were red crabs, comb jellies ("sea gooseberries"), and a delightful assemblage of jellyfish. All in all, it was a deeply rich and satisfying display, delivered by the faraway forces that make the waves (Kathy Merrifield).
John Chapman reported on 1/16/2003 that there had been a massive die- off of cockles and other clams at Idaho Flats. Many clams lay agape on top of the mud. Range Bayer notes that in about 1995 or 1996, there was a big die-off of cockles at Yaquina Bay that was thought to have been caused by too much freshwater. We don't know when they died this year, so it is yet undetermined why they died this year.
On 8/18/1994, Terry Morse noted that ctenuchid moths are much sparser around the HMSC this summer than in past years. He has also found Painted Lady butterflies occasionally, but, so far, this has not been an eruption year for them like a few years ago.
In 1995, Terry Morse found tent caterpillars in the spruces along the HMSC Nature Trail on 2/3. Terry also saw a Plume Moth (Pterophoridae) on an office window at the HMSC during three days in mid-February; their wings are split into feather-like divisions.
On 4/1/1995, Terry Morse found a day-flying geometrid moth in Newport; on 4/2 at Newport Reservoir, Terry saw several unidentified blue butterflies and Mylitta crescent spots butterflies (Phyciodes mylitta).
On 6/28/1995, Roy Lowe and Dave Pitkin were in a Zodiac about a mile off Yaquina Head. They saw lots of insects, wasps, and Painted Lady-like butterflies flying south. They may have been blown offshore and disoriented by the warm temperatures and strong east winds that day.
During his hike to Newport Reservoir on 2/11/1996, Terry Morse discovered two small attractive day-flying geometrid moths (Mesoleuca gratulata) with heavy brown markings.
On 3/16/1996 at Newport Reservoir, Terry Morse discovered many Mesoleuca gratulata, which are smallish white day-flying moths with heavy brown markings on the forewings; he also saw an anglewing butterfly (Nymphalidae: Polygonia sp.), which had orange with brown markings above, irregular and ragged-looking wing margins, and dull brown undersides. This butterfly resembles a dead leaf when its wings are folded above its back, and Terry writes that this was only the second anglewing that he has ever seen and "I missed photographing both of them--curses!"
On 3/24/1996, Terry Morse journeyed to the Newport Reservoir again and spotted a white butterfly (Pieridae), possibly a Veined White (Artogeia napi); Mesoleuca gratulata (Geometridae).
During his 4/6/1996 jaunt to Big Creek Park and Big Creek (Newport) Reservoir, Terry Morse saw two checkered skippers (Pyrgus sp.). He wrote that they are: "small (wingspan ca. 1 inch) butterfly-like insects with a brown and white checked pattern, somewhat resembling a checkerspot butterfly (family Nymphalidae), but less colorful. Some skippers resemble butterflies and others moths, but they are neither butterflies nor moths: they are skippers. Skippers, butterflies, and moths together make up the Lepidoptera."
On 4/14/1996, Terry Morse journeyed to South Beach and wrote: "Along the South Jetty trail, in the deflation plain area of South Beach State Park, Western Pine Elfin Butterflies (Incisalia eryphon) perched and chased each other around the shore pines along the South Jetty trail. These are small butterflies (wingspan 3/4-1 inch) and are dark brown and plain looking above. Watch them through binoculars with wings folded above their backs, and they are more attractive. The forewings are dull orange and the hindwings dull brown underneath."
On 4/28/1996 at Big Creek (Newport) Reservoir, Terry Morse saw several butterflies, including tiger swallowtails (Pterourus sp.), blues, whites, and a fritillary. On May 25, he saw there several Pale Tiger Swallowtails (Pterourus eurymedon), a probable fritillary, some Clodius Parnassians (Parnassius clodius) and a checkered skipper (Pyrgus sp.).
In August 1996, Terry Morse writes: "I have seen a number of pyralid (snout) moths of the genus Crambus on buildings around Newport since August 20. They are light brown to brownish-white in color and are easily recognized because at rest the wings curl around the body in a cylinder. Look for pale 1/2-3/4 inch twig-like cylinders sticking out at an angle on buildings and windows and see plate 532 in the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders. The caterpillars feed on grass roots. They are called 'Snout Moths' because some of the mouth parts (the palps) are elongate in this family and look like a long, projecting snout at rest."
On 4/15/1997, Shirley Schwartz saw a hummingbird moth at about 8 PM near her Neskowin home in Tillamook County and writes: "It was feeding on Narcissus blossoms, hovering, poking its nose just like a hummer in miniature, then it darted away."
The first cabbage butterfly at Lola Landis' Waldport home appeared on 5/13/1997.
Sept. 26, 1998 was a busy day for insects; Rebecca Cheek saw many Painted Ladies (butterflies) at her home near Beaver Creek, and Terry Morse saw some of them or other closely related species flying at a rate of less than one per minute. The morning of the next day, Terry Morse saw a few Painted Lady or perhaps one of the other Lady species flying south or milling around along HWY 101 between Newport and Yaquina Head. It was not as pronounced a southerly flight as a few years ago.
In 1999, the night of 9/13, Range Bayer walked out of a building at the HMSC and was struck in the face by a large, unidentified flying object. At first he thought it was a bat because it was about the size of a bat and fluttered like a bat as it flew into the building. But on close examination when it landed, it was a COLOSSAL moth that was about the size of a hand. Tim Bellmore and Waldo Wakefield also observed it. When its wings were not quite flattened, it had a wingspan of 6.25" and was 2.25" from the tip of its eyes to the tip of its abdomen. It was dark brown and the edges of its forewings were tattered, probably from beating against a white light that it was trying to fly into. After being taken away from the light and released, it flew off strongly. Terry Morse notes that the only moth that large in this area is the Black Witch, and he said that Bill Hanshumaker also found a Black Witch at the HMSC last fall. It was memorable!
Perhaps the year 2000 is going to be an invasion year for tent caterpillars, as Range Bayer saw many wandering around HMSC sidewalks on 4/11, and others reported seeing them feeding in spruce trees.
In 2000, a southerly flight of California Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica) butterflies was noted in the Newport area on 9/22 (Terry Morse) and 9/23 (Wayne Hoffman).
In 2001, Rebecca Cheek writes from Wandemere, "Yesterday, 2/12, the bright morning sunshine and calm winds brought out a Red Admiral butterfly. It was visiting marguerites that are (still) blooming in pots by the doorway. Our Petersen's Guide says they overwinter s adults along the immediate Pacific coast, so I don't know if its appearance qualifies as a sign of spring. Buds on red currant and salmonberry and willow are fat, just waiting for a couple of warm days to open up."
A cabbage butterfly visited Lola Landis in Waldport on 3/30/2001. Considering that these overwinter as pupae, this one got an early start.
Also in 2001, a Black Witch moth ("Giant Noctuid, " Ascalapha odorata) was on the wall at Pacific Tire and Brake in Newport on July 16 (Terry Morse). Although this tropical species is a northward stray into Canada in autumn (Terry Morse), at least it wasn't off the wall in Lincoln County.
On 8/13/2002, Maxine Centala wrote, "Just before 11 AM on Cape Perpetua today, I counted 144 butterflies passing by in 5 minutes at the south side of the overlook parking lot. All appeared to be California Tortoiseshells, but they were moving so fast, not pausing to feed or rest, that I couldn't be positive. I also noticed quite a few as I drove along Hwy 101, especially between Yachats and Heceta Head."
Also on 8/13/2002, Terry Morse counted 3 California Tortoiseshell butterflies (Nymphalis californica) flying east toward Hwy 101 past Newport's Burger King between 10:35 and 10:39. His peak count was between 11:39 and 11:49 near Big Guy's Diner (1801 N. Coast Hwy.) at the north end of Newport, when he counted 10 Tortoiseshells flying east across Hwy. 101 and none flying in any other direction, along a 30 meter line of sight; their flight was intermittent, not constant. During his last observation between 12:48 and 13:06 while walking south he only counted 2 tortoiseshells flying east, and none flying in any other direction.
On 9/22/2002, Terry Morse wrote, "Sparse evidence of a dragonfly flight at Yaquina Head right now, but there is a clear SE flight of California Tortoiseshells by the Lighthouse. Between 10:24 and 10:34, I counted 35 flying very strongly in a SE direction (3.5 per min). I saw a small number of dragonflies S. corruptum, some of which were flying SE, but other apparently just milling about. Between 10:49 and 10:59, I counted 10 tortoiseshells (1/min), but no dragonflies. Wind from the N at 6 mph. Temperature 73 deg F." The tortoiseshell flight died out by the afternoon, Terry later reported.
On 9/22/2002, Maxine Centala wrote, "There was a little California Tortoiseshell activity at the Cape Perpetua overlook this morning, but not many dragonflies. I counted 23 California tortoiseshells flying S, none flying in other directions, in 15 min. On the S face of the Cape, I counted 27 California tortoiseshells and 5 dragonflies moving S or SE in 15 min. Wind was mostly calm, with occasional variable light gusts."
Sympetrum corruptum is the species most associated with the mass dragonfly flights that occur in Lincoln County and elsewhere along the Oregon or Washington coasts in late August or early September in some years.
In 1994, the weather conditions during the afternoon of 9/21 were ideal for a dragonfly Major Directional Flight: the temperature was hot (96 F!) and the winds were 13-19 mph from the east. However, neither Terry Morse nor Range Bayer found any evidence for even a Minor Directional Flight. Although there were more dragonflies than usual, they were milling around and not flying in one direction. The critical missing element may have been that these conditions occurred too late--previous Major Directed Flights have occurred only during the narrow 8/30-9/14 window.
In 1995, Terry Morse is the first to find that Sympetrum corruptum are around here even when there are no mass flights. He found some at the South Beach State Park on 7/16 and 8/13. On 8/18, following a mild wind from the southeast, Terry Morse noted that the number of Sympetrum corruptum suddenly increased markedly in numbers around the Hatfield Marine Science Center. At Newport, the afternoon and evening of 9/20 turned unusually warm, and it was also warm and with an east wind the morning of 9/21. These ingredients, especially earlier in September, have been correlated with mass, directional flights, but Terry Morse looked and did not see any. However, around the Hatfield Marine Science Center, Terry did find many more than usual Sympetrum corruptum.
On 22 January 1996, Shirley Schwartz found a dead dragonfly with red bands on its abdomen at her Neskowin home in Tillamook County; evidently, the cold finally got it, but this seems very late for them. Dave Pitkin transported it to Terry Morse, who identified it as a male Sympetrum corruptum. It was in good condition, so it probably had not been lying around since last fall; but it is surprisingly late.
In 1996, Terry Morse found the first Sympetrum corruptum n 7/26 at the HMSC Nature Trail. On 9/17 at South Beach, Terry Morse found that Sympetrum corruptum were more abundant than normal on 9/17, but there was no indication that they were part of a directed, mass flight. On 9/23, Range Bayer discovered a minor flight with rates of about 5/minute flying south in Newport; alerted, Terry Morse went out near the HMSC and also found rates of about 5/minute flying south. 7 of 8 that Terry captured on 9/23 were S. corruptum. Roy Lowe relayed a telephone call from Brian Godfrey in Cannon Beach to Range; in Cannon Beach, Brian said the mass flight was causing quite a stir with rates of about 100-300/minute flying south on 9/23! With that many flying, many people take notice. In response to Range's request on Oregon Birders On-Line, Alison Fuchs also reported a mass flight of dragonflies near Gold Beach on Sept. 23 and maybe Sept. 22! So the 9/23 flight was noted at Cannon Beach, Newport, and Gold Beach--this may be the longest distance over which such a flight has been reported. Note however that these dragonflies may not have been involved in a true migration but may have just been orienting to east winds and warm temperatures occurring that day. We still don't know a lot about these flights and less about times when the main "migrant" S. corruptum is present but not "migrating."
In 1997, Dave Pitkin spotted 11 S. corruptum and one Sympetrum spp. along the beach near Sandpiper Village on 8/21/1997. At least six were females and were perched; none of the 12 appeared to be participating in a flight in a definite direction. He also saw a single, probable S. corruptum in the same area on 8/27.
Also in 1997, we had a large flight each day during August 29- September 1, which is the longest since we started looking in 1983! Some flight rates were as high as we could count, too! We had another major directed flight of dragonflies on September 9 and September 19-21! Dragonflies made the front page of both the Lincoln City and Newport newspapers on September 10 and also on p. A10 of the September 24 Newport newspaper. Reading about dragonflies beats reading about crime or people bickering!
In 1998, Terry Morse saw the first Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum) of the year at Yaquina Head on July 27. On August 28, Terry saw a minor southerly flight of S. corruptum in Newport. In marked contrast to 1997 when we had several major flights, this year (1998) there were none--this year was more "typical." But there were at least two minor flights after Terry's minor flight of August 28, although others could have easily been missed. Before 10 AM on Sept. 21, Dave Pitkin saw about 2-3 Sympetrum corruptum per minute flying south along the beach between Seal Rocks and Alsea Bay. On 9/27 when he also saw the butterfly minor flight, Terry Morse also saw a very few S. corruptum, some of which appeared to be flying in a southerly direction along HWY 101.
In 1999, Terry Morse spotted as many as 4 dragonflies/minute flying south in north Newport the morning of August 27, but at the same time in southwest Newport, Range Bayer saw none. So this was a very local minor flight. We haven't had any days with strong east winds, which are the days most associated with the major southerly flights. We had major flights of dragonflies heading south on 9/8 and 9/12--the 9/12 flight was large enough to attract the attention of a Newport newspaper reporter, who wrote an article about it. Some observers estimated thousands on both days, with the 9/8 flight seen from the Columbia River South Jetty to Yachats and the 9/12 flight from Newport to Florence. Terry Morse noted that most, if not all, were the same species as in flights in other years, the Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum).
In 2000, Terry Morse saw the first Variegated Meadowhawk of the season in Newport on 8/29. On 9/23 in north Newport, Terry noted a minor flight of them flying southeast at a maximum rate of about 2/minute; closer to the ocean in southwest Newport, Range Bayer did not detect a flight, but he could have missed a flight of less than 1/minute.
In 2001, Terry Morse had his first confirmed sighting of a Variegated Meadowhawk in Newport on 8/9. This is the "migrant" species here, and Terry has found nonmigrants prior to the migration time in other years. The only directed flight of dragonflies (apparently all Variegated Meadowhawks, Sympetrum corruptum) was noted on September 8 at the Columbia River South Jetty by Mike Patterson and at Nehalem Bay by Jane Comerford. Their peak flight rates were about 20-40 dragonflies per minute flying towards the southeast. That day in Newport, Terry Morse saw a sudden increase in numbers of Variegated Meadowhawks, but no flight--Norm Anderson and Range Bayer also did not see a directed flight in Newport that day. On Sept. 9, Terry also did not see a mass flight in Newport, so the ones flying the previous day to the north do not appear to have come through Newport. So the mass flight did not extend to us.
In 1994, Terry Morse saw a female in a tandem pair of Sympetrum vicinum ovipositing eggs at Newport Reservoir on 10/29.
In 1995, from 6/25-7/3, Dave Pitkin noticed many green Sympetrum sp. hatching at OSU's Guin House in South Beach; the dragonflies were flying so weakly that they were easily being caught by Cedar Waxwings. On 7/16, Terry Morse found Sympetrum madidum, the cherry-faced meadowhawk, which was the most abundant dragonfly in the South Beach Deflation Plains on 7/16. On 7/29, Terry found a new dragonfly for the Newport area, Aeschna multicolor.
On 9/17/1995, Phil Lamberson noted many red-bodied dragonflies on the ground south of the Day Use Parking area at South Beach State Park. He estimated that their density was about 1 per 10 sq. meter, but that they were not migrating. Terry Morse suspects that these dragonflies were Sympetrum obtrusum (perhaps along with other species) because he recollects seeing quite a few S. obtrusum at SB State Park this time last year.
During his 4/6/1996 trip to Big Creek Park and Big Creek (Newport) Reservoir, Terry Morse also saw the first live dragonfly of the year, a California Darner (Aeshna californica) perched on a dead plant. Then the rains came back, and Terry writes: "I saw no more dragonflies until May 25th, when A. californica were common at the reservoir and a few Cardinal Meadowhawks (Sympetrum illotum) were flying as well."
On 9/22/1996 at Newport (Big Creek) Reservoir, Terry Morse saw at least two species of large blue dragonflies flying, Aeshna palmata (Paddle- tailed Darner) and Aeshna umbrosa (Shadow Darner). Terry writes: "Both have green markings on the thorax, which you can see if you watch them carefully in flight, but you have to catch them to tell them apart."
On 4/14/1996, Terry Morse observed: "Swift Forktail damselflies (Ischnura erratica) were numerous on the road to Mike Miller Park. They are about 1-3/4 inch long. The males have a blue thorax with black stripes above, but are lime green underneath; the abdomen is black with a blue tip. The eyes were blue and brown above, lime green below. The face is lime green. The females are brown with black bars on the thorax, and the top of the abdomen was also black. Males seemed to outnumber females by dozens to one, but the females are somewhat less conspicuous than the males and females with the same coloration as the males have been reported, so they may not have been as scarce as they appeared."
In May 1996, Terry Morse writes: "There are at least 3 species of damselflies flying in Newport now. Males are generally electric blue with black markings. Females may be similar in color and markings to the males (though paler), or may be brown, pinkish, or orange. Two of the species have a blue-tipped black abdomen, and the third has blue rings and a blue tip on the otherwise black abdomen. The blue-ringed species is probably the Northern Bluet, Enallagma cyathigerum. It is about 1-1/3 inches long. Of the two species with a blue-tipped black abdomen, the larger (also about 1-1/3 inches long) is almost certainly the Swift Forktail (Ischnura erratica) and the smaller (about 1 inch long) is the Pacific Forktail (I. cervula). If you see both of these species together, the size difference is obvious. With binoculars or a telephoto lens you will also see that I. erratica has 1 blue stripe on each side of the top of the thorax in front of the wings; in I. cervula each of these stripes is reduced to two spots. Males of the genus Ischnura generally have a raised process on top of the 10th abdominal segment which may be forked, hence the common name "'Forktail.'"
In September 1996 at Newport (Big Creek) Reservoir, Terry Morse writes: "Late season odonates are beginning to show up: the large (for a damselfly, ca. 2" long) brown spreadwing damselfly with beautiful blue eyes, Archilestes californica (White-sided Spreadwing). I only saw one Archilestes, and the water level in the upper reaches and tributaries of the reservoir is quite low, so it remains to be seen how numerous they will be this year. They were quite common at Big Creek Reservoir last autumn."
In the Lincoln County Bird Notes from the Sandpiper, gulls and sometimes even European Starlings were reported "hawking" mating swarms of flying insects. This seemed to mainly occur in late summer or early fall during warm days with little wind, when mating swarms of insects rose into the air. Some of these swarms were of flying ants or termites, but other insects also had mating swarms. Below are notes of flying ants or termites in the "Other Nature Notes"; more records are in the Recent Lincoln County Bird Notes and perhaps may be extracted sometime.
In 1997, Range Bayer reported the first flying carpenter- like ants, which were at the HMSC on 8/10; one gull appeared to be trying to hawk them. On 8/15, Roy Lowe spotted the first flying carpenter ants at Waldport. On hot days, gulls will be active right along the coast trying to catch swarming ants and other insects.
In 1998, the first flying, large ants or termites were spotted at the HMSC on August 16 by Range Bayer.
In 2000, the first report of flying ants was at the HMSC on 8/24 (Range Bayer).
In Neskowin, Shirley Schwartz wrote on 6/12/2002, "83 degrees today and the carpenter ants thought this was a good place to end their migration."
On 9/8/2002, winged termites flew at Driftwood Beach, Idaho Flats and Sally's Bend, but no gulls hawked them (Kathy Merrifield).
The introduced ladybird beetles (genus Harmonia), like many introductions, have become a nuisance in some places.
In 1994, Shirley Schwartz was surprised at 1:30 PM on 10/19 to find hundreds of ladybird beetles (ladybugs) swarming in the air and on the chimney, windows, and siding of her Neskowin home in Tillamook County! Evidently, as reported in the Salem and Corvallis Audubon newsletters, many such swarms were reported and were a subject of concern in the Willamette Valley. According to these newsletters, OSU Extension Entomologists report that ladybirds in these swarms this fall are called "Harmonia" and were intentionally introduced from Japan to the East Coast to consume aphids. They have since spread and may help control aphids here. These are probably Harmonia ladybirds that were intentionally introduced from Japan to control aphids on the East Coast and were also swarming in the Willamette Valley this fall. In mid-February 1995, Shirley noted that "they were in her refrigerator, the microwave, my hair, on my blanket control, and everywhere I look. I scoop them up by the cupful and throw them outside, but it hardly seems to make a dent in the population. The house spiders are having an orgy as oodles of ladybugs fall into their clutches." In the Nov. 1994 Corvallis and Salem Audubon newsletters, an OSU extension agent indicated that Harmonia come in many color forms with the most common type being orange with as many as 19 black spots and that if you are determined to get rid of them that you can use a vacuum cleaner or Shopvac! Wow, sounds like yet another introduction running amuck!
During the 1995/1996 winter, Shirley Schwartz again has been scooping these ladybirds up at her Neskowin home.
In March 1997, Shirley Schwartz has been unsuccessfully trying to clear them out from inside her home in Neskowin (Tillamook County).
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LADYBIRDS/LADYBUGS. In March 1999, Shirley Schwartz writes that she has had quite a time with the nonnative ladybird beetles at her Neskowin home in Tillamook County for the past three years. Unlike native ladybirds, the nonnative ladybirds inhabit houses en masse. At her home they have mostly been in the living room, but this winter they have taken over the kitchen.
Shirley sent a copy of an article "Ladybug, fly outta my home" by Laura Tangley on p. 58 of the 1/25/1999 US News and World Report. Many were introduced as biological control agents to control aphids, but some entomologists (who wish to deflect the blame ?) believe that the problematical ones immigrated from a ship at New Orleans.
Advice to homeowners to remove the swarms include sealing a house with caulking, vacuuming up the ladybirds, moving to lower ground, or painting houses black. Soon, agricultural scientists will introduce a commercial indoor trap to attract them, so they can be released outdoors where a single beetle can kill 300 aphids before it becomes an adult.
In pecan orchards, the ladybirds have nearly eliminated the need for aphid pesticides, but homeowners have complained that they would rather pay more for pecans than have swarms of ladybirds in their home.
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The last week of March 1999, several beachcombers found hordes of ladybird beetles on ocean beaches at Ona Beach and in Newport and reported them to Sylvia Pauley at the HMSC. On April 16, Range Bayer also saw small numbers of live ladybirds at the water's edge at South Beach.
On 4/9/2000, visitors to the Hatfield MSC Visitor's Center reported seeing mats of ladybugs 2-3 feet across on beaches (fide Bill Hanshumaker). It is unclear if these are the native or introduced ladybugs.
They were first reported in the Sandpiper in the fall of 1991. In November 1991, OSU Extension responded to Range Bayer's inquiry and said that the mantids most likely being seen in Lincoln County were the European Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa) that have been introduced for biological control.
Most of the sightings are in fall near the coast.
In 1994, on 8/22, Roy Lowe and Dave Pitkin each saw a green adult Praying Mantis at the South Beach Industrial Park [which is named Aquarium Village in 2002 and is on the south side of Oregon Coast Aquarium]; Dave measured the one he found as being 2.5 inches long from the tip of its head to the tip of its wing. At the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) Apartments, Dave found a 2.75 inch greenish-brown adult on 8/23, a 2.0 inch brown adult on 9/11, and a 2.0 inch pale brown adult on 9/18. On 9/28, Maureen Collson discovered THREE (one was 3.0 inch long) in the MSC Apt. Dining Room, but none appear to have hatched from last year's egg case at the Apts. On 9/18/1994, Eric Horvath found a beige adult at his South Beach home. On Oct. 4, Roy Lowe found a 2.75 inch brown praying mantis at the HMSC.
On 14 October 1994, Shirley and Jim Thielen expanded the known range of coastal Lincoln County mantids because they reported that their cat was bringing in dull green adults for her kittens at Seal Rocks.
But 16 October 1994 appears to have been a special day on Pioneer Mt. just east of Toledo. Chuck Philo and his son saw a total of six praying mantis FLYING! They were about 2.5 in long, green, and the edge of their wings were brown. They would fly about 20 ft and land; their flight reminded Chuck of the way large grasshoppers fly! (This is the furthest inland record for them in Lincoln Co.)
In 1995, Shirley Schwartz spied a Praying Mantis at South Beach State Park on 9/23, and Betty Slauson found a green one near Yachats on 9/25. Bob Llewellyn saw a green adult about 3 inches long at Oregon Coast Aquarium on 10/28, and Dave Pitkin measured one that was brown with a green face and eyes that was exactly 2.5 inches from head to tail near the Aquarium on 11/14. TB and Deirdre Dame found one five miles up the Yachats River on 10/29; this is the first time that mantids have been found there.
In 1996, Jamie Simmons discovered a brown praying mantis south of Waldport on 9/3, and Duane Thomas reported the first one (also brown) in Newport at Sea Towne Shopping Center in Newport on 9/9. John Zander discovered a green mantid 2.25 inch long from head to tail at the South Beach Industrial Park [now Aquarium Village at south end of Oregon Coast Aquarium] on 10/17 (fide Dave Pitkin). On 10/22, Maureen Collson saw two adults at the HMSC apartments; one laid an egg mass, and the other appeared to eat part of the eggs! Terry Morse notes that the sex is not determinable by their color.
In 1997, the first adult green Praying Mantis this fall was detected at the HMSC on 9/2/1997 by Range Bayer.
In 1998, Chuck Philo saw the first adult of the fall flying 6.7 mi inland near the town of Siletz on 9/26; Range Bayer reported the first at the HMSC on 9/27.
In 1999, Range Bayer spotted an inch long, light brown Praying Mantis hunting just after midnight at the HMSC on 8/5. This is a couple of weeks early. On 8/5, Range saw one at the HMSC, on 9/9, Chuck Philo found a green 2.25" long mantid at the Newport Safeway, and, on 9/27, Dave Pitkin discovered a green 2" mantid at the HMSC. On 11/15, Roy Lowe found one at the HMSC--the latest of 1999.
In 2000, Chuck Philo measured a 2 inch yellow-green Praying Mantis at the Safeway Plaza in north Newport on 9/18, and Marion Mann found one at the HMSC in mid-September.
In 2000, on October 5, Dave Pitkin saw a large spider eating a 1.75 inch long Praying Mantis in the spider's web at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.
In 2001, John MacKown found a Praying Mantis on the Idaho Flats nature trail during the 9/21 YB&N field trip. On 9/23, Dave Pitkin glanced up from his desk at the HMSC and saw a large flying insect land in blackberry bushes about 50 feet from his window. He went outside and found a Praying Mantis, the first he'd seen on the coast this year, a yellow-brown, 150 millimeter-long male or a non-gravid female. A Praying Mantis crawled on Roy Lowe on 10/9, and several were around HMSC vegetation during the previous week (Carol Cole).
On 9/18/2002, Dave Pitkin measured a 2 1/8" green praying mantis outside his HMSC office and then noticed at least three others in flight. Dave Pitkin notes that mantids are an impressive size when they're flying. The wings appear quite light, almost white, and translucent. They're not very good fliers, and they usually kind of lumber along. When they land they sometimes just fold their wings and drop out of the sky onto vegetation, thunk-like.
Dave Pitkin often sees praying mantises through his USFWS window at the HMSC. He wrote on 9/19/2002, "Mantids are an impressive size when they're flying. The wings appear quite light, almost white, and translucent. They're not very good fliers, and usually kind of lumber along. When they land they sometimes just fold their wings and drop out of the sky onto vegetation, thunk-like." And on 9/25, he wrote, "I just hung up from a 10 min phone conversation, during which I saw 7 praying mantises flying around outside my window. I've never seen anything like it! "
On 9/25/2002, Ashley Dayer of USFWS wrote, "We've been seeing a lot of praying mantis around the USFWS office so Dave Pitkin suggested that a colleague and I head to get some data for you. We found 5 insects: 3 females were located around one window on our office (1 on screen, 2 on concrete); 2 males were found on tall, brown grass, perhaps Calamagrostis sp. All mantises were brown. Sizes (in inches): females: 2.5, 2.25, 2.15; males: 2.25, 2.0."
Apparently, one reason mantises change color is age, so Ashley Dayer wondered if the brown mantises she was seeing were old or were just brown morphs. She followed up on her curiosity by "Asking the Expert" at www.ENature.com in September 2002 and received the following response:
"The coloration of mantids is genetically controlled. The mantids found in your area come in green and brown forms, and except for the tendency for green individuals to become a dull grayish-brown as they get old, they don't change color during their lives. Natural selection usually dictates the ratio of colors in any given population. In habitats with a predominantly brown background, this form will prosper by escaping the notice of visual predators (mainly birds), and in lush green situations, more of the green mantids will survive to reproduce."
Also see Invertebrate Communities in Mosses by Kathy Merrifield and Lynn Royce.
In 1994, as is customary, many insects started flying in mating swarms on warm September days. Gulls were "hawking" many flying ants with "stingers" that were noted at Yaquina Head on 9/16 (Michael Noack).
On 2/27/1995, Maureen Collson found a brilliantly colored small beetle in her garden in north Newport--Terry identified it as a Golden Tortoise Beetle. It was aptly named as it was bright gold in color, but the golden color fades after it dies.
On 3/28/1995, Bob Loeffel called Terry Morse about some bees milling around in large numbers over open sand just south of the Mike Miller Park Trailhead in South Beach. Terry visited the site the next day. About 200 or so were still around, with some mating and others digging burrows in the sand. Terry later identified them as Digger Bees and discusses their identification in Example 1 of his article: How to Choose an Insect Field Guide.
On 6/28/1995, Roy Lowe and Dave Pitkin were in a Zodiac about a mile off Yaquina Head. They saw lots of insects, wasps, and Painted Lady-like butterflies flying south. They may have been blown offshore and disoriented by the warm temperatures and strong east winds that day.
In January 1996, Chuck Philo hiked up Crown Point (which is 3,300 ft high and in NE Lincoln County); on top, in an abandoned shed, he found a very large congregation of Harvestmen (Daddy Longlegs) lying on top of each other.
During his hike to Newport Reservoir on 2/11/1996, Terry Morse discovered three parasitic Ichneumon "wasps" hunting for prey in the grass and forbs. On 2/14, Terry noted that Zebra Jumping Spiders were numerous on the warm, sunlit walls of the two shelters along the HMSC Nature Trail, with nine on one wall.
On 3/13/1996, Terry found Zebra Spiders (Salticus scenicus) and a large cranefly (Tipulidae) on the walls of one of the HMSC Nature Trail shelters, and also some smaller long-legged flies that might also be in the cranefly family. Terry also noted that there was a significant emergence of various flies around this time. Kathy Merrifield noticed swarms of mayflies and small gnat-like insects at Beaver Creek on 3/3/1996.
On 3/16 and 24/1996 at Newport Reservoir, Terry Morse found alderflies (Megaloptera:Sialidae).
On 3/28/1996 at his Nye Beach home, Terry viewed a Pompilid (spider) wasp approx 1" long that was black with a bright orange abdomen drag a paralyzed spider across a cement step into the grass, then underneath the hillside stairway, where it apparently had a burrow. Terry writes that "Pompilids sting spiders and large insects to paralyze but not kill them, drag the prey item back to a burrow, then lay eggs on them. When the larvae hatch out, they feed on the innards of the paralyzed prey, only killing it when they are ready to emerge as adults."
During 4/6/1996 visit to Big Creek Park and Big Creek (Newport) Reservoir, Terry Morse also saw green stoneflies (Plecoptera: Chloroperlidae). He wrote: "These are attractive elongate green or yellow insects with two 'tails' (cerci) at the tip of the abdomen, which I found sheltering among the leaves of skunk cabbages. Terry discusses their identification in Example 2 of his article: How to Choose an Insect Field Guide.
In 1996, Terry Morse noted that quite a few long-jawed orb-weaver spiders (Tetragnathidae) were sunning on a guard rail beside the road at Big Creek Reservoir on April 28. He writes: "They were much less numerous on 4 May. On 25 May I didn't see any on the guard rails, but did find one of these long, skinny spiders stretched out on a grass stalk next to its web at Blattner Creek. A few alderflies (Neuroptera: Sialidae) and a phantom crane fly (Diptera: Ptychopteridae) were also sunning on the railing. My most interesting sighting was of a small (1/4" long) orange, wasp-mimic thick-headed fly (Diptera: Conopidae). The adult fly feeds on nectar and pollen but lays its eggs on bees and wasps in flight. The larvae develop as internal parasites of the unlucky egg-recipient."
On 5/25/1996 at Big Creek (Newport) Reservoir, Terry notes: "Hover flies (Diptera: Syrphidae) another group of flies which mimic bees and wasps (particularly yellow-jackets) were common, as were red-tailed bumble bees (Bombus sp.). My prize sighting of the day was a female snakefly (Neuroptera: Raphidiodea) in the grass. About 1" long, it resembles a small, dark mantis, except that the front legs are not raptorial like a mantis's: All three pairs of legs are similar and are used for walking. The long neck (actually, the elongate first segment of the thorax) and head suggest a snake poised to strike, hence the name "snakefly." The female has a long ovipositor, which is used to lay eggs in bark crevices. You can find a photo of a Texas snakefly in the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects, plate 334."
On 8/29/1996, Terry Morse saw an adult antlion (Neuroptera: Myrmeleontidae) clinging to a fine-meshed wire cage outdoors at the MSC. Terry writes: "It was a skinny gray insect about 2" long with very long, finely veined wings folded over its back like a pup tent. Except for the way it held its wings at rest, it looked very much like a large damselfly. Their antennae are also relatively long and conspicuous, while a damselfly's are tiny and inconspicuous. Antlions are best known for their larvae which dig pits in sandy soil and feed on ants and other small insects which stumble into the trap. The larvae of some species, however, bury themselves in the sand without making pits, or hide in plant debris in wait of prey. Since I haven't noticed any pits around Newport, this is likely one of those species."
Terry Morse writes on 9/16/1996: "Walking home from work around 4:30 pm, I found a dying female Horntail (Hymenoptera: Siricidae) on the sidewalk at the SE end of Yaquina Bay Bridge, likely having been struck a glancing blow by an automobile. Also called "wood wasps," Horntails resemble large (ca. 1"), thick-bodied wasps with orange-yellow wings. Males and females both have a pointed horny plate projecting from the tip of the abdomen. Females have a long ovipositor ("egg-layer") beneath the "horn tail" which they use to lay eggs in old and decaying wood. After hatching from the eggs, the larvae eat the wood until they have grown enough to pupate to adulthood, still inside the wood. The adults must have a way to escape from the wood, and this is where the horny "tail" comes in: they use the sharp "tail" to brace themselves against the wood, then stretch their body upward to break out to the open air. Plate 477 in the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders resembles the one I found, though mine had a much longer ovipositor.
As temperatures warm, more insect life becomes apparent. On 4/9/1997, Shirley found a tiny bee's nest over her front door in Neskowin, but she saw no bees.
On 6/6/1998, Chuck Philo visited the high country of NE Lincoln County, and parked his car at Elk Wallow, about 5 mi south of Lost Prairie. Upon his return, he was surprised to find 130 Water Boatmen on his car. They had apparently mistaken his shiny car for a pond, landed, and died, perhaps because of the heat of the metal in the sunlight.
In 1999 on 10/2 at about 4:30-5 PM, Shirley Schwartz saw a large flight of small, white moth-like insects flying east or southeast up the Neskowin Creek Valley in Tillamook County. In counts for a few seconds, she estimated that rates were about 600 per minute! The flight ended as the sun "set" behind Cascade Head. The next day, a smaller flight of similar insects started and ended at about the same time.
In 1999, late the afternoon of 10/18 near Neskowin in Tillamook County, Shirley Schwartz saw another flight of hundreds of unidentified insects that were flying east over Neskowin Creek as well as floating spider webs. It was warm--66 F, and it was similar to the flights she reported in our last newsletter.
In 2000, on October 5, Dave Pitkin saw a large spider eating a 1.75 inch long Praying Mantis in the spider's web at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. On October 18, Chuck Philo saw a Bushtit caught in a spider web near Toledo. It hung by one wing in the web, and it was loudly screeching. Other Bushtits were watching nearby. As Chuck reached down to release it, the Bushtit appeared to become more agitated and managed to finally free itself and fly away. Along the coast, the largest spiders seem to come out in late September and October, and their webs this fall have been tough enough to catch a bird and a Praying Mantis!
In 2000, during 10/6-8 on the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Terry Morse spotted as many as 25 Western Conifer Seed Bugs and 14 Red-crossed Stink Bugs--perhaps there had been a flight or migration of them.
Go to Lincoln County (Oregon) Natural History Information
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