New Species from Big Creek Reserve

 New walking stick  New moth  Four new moth species!
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 "Rare" undescribed moth turns out to be abundant on Big Creek redwoods. UC Berkely professor Jerry Powell and post-doctoral researcher Dan Rubinoff recently visited Big Creek to particpate in the 14th annual butterfly count. They also brought along lures for the green budworm Choristoneura retiniana in an effort to look for a new species of budworm which might feed on Santa Lucia Fir Abies bracteata. They set out pheromone trap lures at Cone Peak near stands of the Fir, but brought extra lures to Big Creek, and set them under the redwoods overnight. Nothing came to the traps during the night. The next day, to the researchers' astonishment, the trap filled up with hundreds of 1/2 inch long Tortricid moths in the genus Syndemis. This moth was previously known from only two specimens, one collected at Big Creek and the other from the Santa Cruz mountains. Jerry and Dan propose to call it Syndemis sequoiae after the host plant Sequoia sempervirens, but as yet it remains undescribed. The new moth is diurnal and, apparently, can become quite abundant!

A pair of articles in the journal Fremontia, volume 30 (2003), describe these and other insect-plant relationships at Big Creek and elsewhere. 
 "Syndemis sequoiae" male sitting on fender of car near pheromone trap.

 Pheromone trap filled with "rare" redwood feeding moth species. 5-31-02
 Researchers gather around pheromone trap on roof of Jerry Powell's jeep. Dozens of male Syndemis moths are circling the car. 5-31-02

Four new moth species! UC Berkeley professor Jerry Powell and Czech Republic collaborator Dalibor Povolny have described several new species of moths from the California central coast, including four new species from Big Creek. These moths are members of the family Gelechiidae, subfamily Gnorimoschemini, a group particularly common in coastal strand and coastal dune habitats. Prior to their survey, 117 species in 18 genera had been described. Powell and Povolny have added 21 new species. Some species' larvae live in silken tubes in sand, but the remainder of the species arre leaf miners, stem borers, or gallmakers. The two other species not illustrated below are Gnorimoschema crypticum Povolny and Powell (which creates soft galls in stems of Haplopappus (Hazardia) squarrosa, and Scrobipalpopsis madiae Povolny and Powell, which possibly feeds on foliage of Madia madioides in redwood canyons. Powell has found 11 species of Gnorimoschemini in the Big Creek coastal scrub habitats.


 A painting of a male Exceptia sisterina Povolny and Powell described from specimens taken from Big Creek Reserve in coastal scrub habitat. Nothing is known about the larval biology of this species.

 Male Euscrobipalpa arenaceariella Povolny and Powell collected from Big Creek Reserve(left).
Dark form female E. arenanceariella.(right).
The young larvae of this species mine in the soft leaves of mugwort Artemisia douglasiana. As they get larger they emerge and fold a leaf edge to make a shelter. Inside the shelter they skeletonize the leaf.

New moth! For the second time this year, a new species of insect has been decribed based on collections at Big Creek. The larvae of Elachista indisella were collected by UC Berkeley professor Jerry Powell as part of his comprehensive moth survey, and sent to a museum taxonomist Lauri Kaila, who works at the Finnish Museum of Natural History in Helsinki, Finland. Kaila recently published his revision of the Nearctic species of the genus Elachista (Lepidoptera: Elachistidae), which included 49 newly named and described species, among which is the Big Creek species E. indisella. (Reference: Acta Zool. Fennica 211:1-235.)

  Female Elachista indisella, raised from caterpillar. Collected from leaf mines in the blades of the grass Hierochloe occidentalis, redwood understory, Big Creek canyon.

New Walking Stick! UC Santa Barbara researcher (and UC Coal Oil Point Reserve manager) Cristina Sandoval has discovered at least one new species of Timema at Big Creek. Timemas are a kind of walking stick insect that feed on foliage of trees and shrubs, and are fairly large and conspicuous at Big Creek. This new species Timema landelsensis feeds on the foliage of our endemic Hoover's Manzanita Arctostaphylos hooveri Cris thinks that the Big Sur coast may be a "hot spot" for Timema diversity, and she is looking for other species now. Big Creek is an ideal place to look for these insects, with its mix of protected habitats and post-fire successional states. The species was named after Big Creek Reserve's full name "Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve," and honors Ed Landels, one of the founders of the reserve, and his daughter Toni Landels Hyman, who has selflessly helped with reserve planning and fundraising.


 Timema landelsensis female on leaf of Hoover's manzanita Arctostaphylos hooveri

 T. landelsensis male. These are fairly large insects; adults are 2-3 cm long.


 Researcher Cristina Sandoval sampling Timema on pine foliage.

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