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Wastelands of Rialto, CA, USA, dial up warning :)

Discussion in 'Field Trips (Natural Habitats)' started by cacoseraph, Sep 12, 2006.

  1. cacoseraph

    cacoseraph ArachnoGod Old Timer

    (scroll down a ways to skip to the pictures :))

    The Wastelands is my city's unofficial dump. Amusingly enough, you can see the official dump from parts of the Wastelands... but my city is not exactly filled with great and honorable people so...

    Climate and Ecology
    The Wastelands is pretty close to, if not, chapparal. Chapparal almost has two faces, a summer face and a winter face.

    Chap is very hot during summer reaching over 100*F/39*C and some parts reaching 115*F/46*C. It is also very dry in the summer. It does rain periodically in my chap in the summer, but only a few days out of the whole summer. In summer chap is characterized by the earth tones... dead tan/yellow grass, barren bushes, and dry sandy dirt. Winters are actually quite nice though, with my local chap typically sticking around ~70*F/20*C and rain is plentiful. The chap explodes in spring... it is quite a glorious riot of colors... green EVERYWHERE and California poppies push the visible spectrum into ultraviolet, i personally think :)

    Globally i think i have some of the "softer" chap, with places in africa or australia getting much rougher!

    Because of these somewhat harsh conditions plants and animals have evolved to live there in interesting ways. Virtually all plants have spikes on them, and most of those spikes have irritating chemicals on them. A lot of the plants seem to dry out and die over summer, but will perk up right quick with a rain... and grow like gangbusters in spring! Larger plants run to manzanita, star thistle, purple hate ( i don't know it's "real" common name, but it has inch long thorns and can hide in stands of other vegetation so when you move them aside the purple hate bites you, i'm pretty allergic too it, too... joy!), stunted trees (montane chaparral has pine trees a lot of the time around me) and i don't really know the rest. The vast majority of animals are nocturnal. My local diurnal menu includes: flies, all manner of hymenoptera (ENDLESS kinds of ants! i've seen probably 20-50 easily distinguishable ant species in the various California chap i have had the pleasure of exploring) , dragonflies, lizards, squirrells, lots of bunnies, and birds. At dusk, the real party animals come out to play though :) Giant centipedes, scorpions, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, coyotes, owls, rubber boas, legless lizards... all kinds of amazing animals to look at!

    When i started hunting it was around 10am and already 95*F... bring and drink at least a pint of water an hour. I don't know what the "official" recommendation for hydrating yourself is... but PLEASE remember if you are doing any hunting in the heat you can get sun burned, sun stroke, or dehydrated pretty easily!!!


    I spent about 2hours on this hunt. I started to feel VERY poorly and headed home so i will probably photodoc more of the features of the Wastelands in the future. The Wastelands is approximately 10-20 square miles (oooh... 25-50 sq.k) and bounded by residential or commercial zones on it's W, S, and E borders with a freeway (I210, if you care ;) ) for its norther border. Once you get a couple hundred feet in though, the view of the surrounding city dissappears :)

    some landscapes (look at all the evidence of fires! chap is notorious for summer fires):

    You might be wondering why i call it the wastelands... well:
    there are tons of places like that. I have a punch more random pics of the crap ppl dumped. I actually *like* some of the debris... mattresses and couches are awesome places to look for bugs! But all the toxic stuff i find really pisses me off!

    One of the interesting features of my chapparal is the quite large Agelenopsis grass spiders. Some reach 3+" DLS (7.5cm) and some of their sheet/funnel webs get HUGE. the largest i have seen was a very well constructed 5 FOOT (er, 1.5m) diameter sheet funnel. It was sort of like a scene from "Arachnophobia". It is entertaining to collect small specimens of the grass spiders as the grow very fast :)
    I really want to get some good pics of a truly massive web. That web was about 2'/ 60cm diameter.

    My city is so hard core even the darkling beetles do smack

    And now for the really fun pics... in situ!
    I believe i have caught at least two species of scorps (there are something like 25 sp and ssp in my surrounding three counties (counties are subdivisions of a state that contain one or more cities. states are subdivisions of USA (hehehe)) (i live in San Bernardino Co. but quite close to parts of Lost Angeles Co. and Riverside Co.).

    I am pretty much a flipper hunter... i just walk around flipping stuff over to see what is shaking underneath. I have tried flooding a few times, but in summer chap i am MUCH more interested in drinking any water i have been lugging aroudn for miles, rather that pouring it into random holes (unless it is in my face and full of teeth, i guess).

    The following pics are ofabout the fifth or sixth specimen of one of the species (lol, i'm eyeballing the species for now... but i am researching them here on my website.

    Ah, this looks like a good board to flip. It is decently shaded (for the area that is decent shade!), lying flat on the ground, and is pretty good size.


    hmm, do you see anything?
    click here to see what i saw when i first flipped the board over

    how about now?

    Here is the pretty little thing after i caught it

    The scorpion was in a burrow that seemed to extend back more than the couple of inches i could see directly into. I have seen this type of burrow enterance numerous times, but this is the first time (er, i *think*) that i have caught a scorpion in one! I am quite curious if the scorp digs this type of burrow itself (horizontally oriented enterance that is wider than it is tall, built in VERY sandy soil). This type of burrow seems to be much more horizontally than vertically oriented... this is a good thing! When it is safe for the bug i like to try to block their retreat by stabbing a knife into the ground behind them and then grabbing them very quickly. This one stung me a couple times then calmed down. The venom doesn't seem to do anything more than sting (lol) at about .1/5 (like a papercut that gets some sweat in it, dang, that is actually quite similar to what it feels like) and in no way dissuades me from hand catching them
    (my hand/fingers looks like they are in a funny position cuz they are... i was holding the scorp in that hand

    Spongy absorbant debris (pillows, mattresses, various clothes drifts) is probably my favorite to look under. I think it is edging out boards (my second favorite) in the number of interesting things i find under it.
    This appears to be a sponge cushion from some kind of seating pad.

    well, what do we have here?

    why, it's a cute little scorpion!

    This guy was much more stingy and its stings were .2/5. It actually stung me enough that i dropped it! I recaptured it after it made the mistake of retreating towards me to try to get out of the sun :) I am certainly not sure... but i *THINK* this might be a third species. It is small, wellunder 2"/5cm and my other specimen is similar size. Both are quite a bit more nervous seeming that the other lokes i have caught in the past, and both seem to have slightly more painful venom than the 10 or so other specimens of other species i have stung by

    I do have a couple few more pics that some might be interested in, but i don't want to make this post require 2-3MBs of transfer for dialupers who chose to brave it :)
  2. Brian S

    Brian S ArachnoGod Old Timer

    Trash seems to make good habitat for some critters. :D
  3. cacoseraph

    cacoseraph ArachnoGod Old Timer

    you should see my room =P

    maybe that's why i've been having so many babies recently!

    but seriously, i like looking under certain kinds of trash better than natural features. big spongy pieces of trash make me very happy!
  4. Stefan2209

    Stefan2209 Arachnodemon Old Timer

    Hey Caco,

    really good read, you´ve written there!

    Funny and informative alike! {D

    Keep up!


  5. cacoseraph

    cacoseraph ArachnoGod Old Timer

    thanks, Stefan :)

    more informed heads than i have said the first species in this thread (with a darker back) is probably Paruroctonus silvestrii and the second species in this thread (that is yellow and more elongated) is Vaejovis puritanus (or possibly another species, but probably puritanus and most likely Vaejovis)
  6. yeah man good thread:D

  7. GartenSpinnen

    GartenSpinnen Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Hey those are some sweet scorpions... wanna send me some ;)
  8. cacoseraph

    cacoseraph ArachnoGod Old Timer

    Thiscordia and cacoseraph's Little Adventure

    Thiscordia and i went hunting in The Wastelands this saturday just past. For it being in the middle of winter we had a great haul!

    Thiscordia walked away with 3 scorpions (vaejovids), a number of 2-4" millipedes (orthoporus sp. i think), a black and red velvet ant (Dasymutilla sp. maybe), and some other stuff. I got two subadult tiger centipedes (Scolopendra polymorpha) and a big western black widow (Latrodectus hesperus). Not bad for a January 27th!

    Pictures! Pictures! Pictures!

    I don't really take bonethings home with me, but southern CA does have some pretty interesting species. One of the most brilliantly colored (as immatures, at any rate) are the skinks. I have seen the most brilliant blue tails on some of these things! Adults typically lose that coloration, but i have read that some retain it :)

    Thiscordia and a skink i caught to look at and then release. Thiscordia has a 2.5-3"/6-8cm millipede in his hand. Millipede could be Hiltonius pulchrus, Tylobolus claremontus, or maybe Atopetholus californicus or maybe even something else.


    I use this site to figure out CA herps
    Western Skink
    probably Eumeces skiltonianus
    possibly Eumeces skiltonianus skiltonianus

    I wasn't feeling that well and had missed the two previous days of work, so i didn't take very many pictures. This is one of the three vaejovids we captured. We also caught what was the smallest scorp i have seen in the wild yet. It was probably a third instar of one of the vaejovids in the wastelands.

    Here is one of the cranky little darlings. This might be a Paruroctonus silvestrii but i usually wait to see what Prymal/barkscorpions/Luc thinks and just sort of parrot him. Ah... standing on the shoulders of giants :)

    We also saw two falcons (red tailed falcons, i think Raul/Thiscordia said) and i tried to take a vid of them soaring looking for lunch. Unfortunately the black specks on a blue field the movie turned out to be are significantly less impressive than the real thing! We saw COOL bright (almost ultraviolety) red spider mites and these bizarre tiny orange crickets. I just might have plans for both those species :D

    One final, somewhat related note: I am lucky to be able to hunt in Southern California. Aside from the occasional rattlesnake there isn't *too* much i have to worry about. To be honest, the dang spikey plants hurt me WAY more than anything else! But some of the rest of you might need to take more precautions. I found this to be very interesting (and surprisingly accurate, given my countries military put it together, hmmm. probably one of those kids using service to put themselves through college, heh)
    Field Guide to Venomous and Medically Important Invertebrates Affecting Military Operations:
    Identification, Biology, Symptoms, Treatment
    Version 2.0, 31 July 2006

    a word of warning... it is a HUGE page and my poor little computer kind of choked on it ;)
  9. GQ.

    GQ. Arachnodemon Old Timer

    Nice job guys! I know what I'm doing this weekend. :) I took a quick little walk last weekend and saw plenty of lizards and a few skinks too. It looks like February will be good for turning up some inverts with all the rain down here.

  10. Thiscordia

    Thiscordia Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Just wanted to thanks you for this great experience bro, it was a great unforgetable experience.
    I had lots of fun and i'm also looking forward for the next trip. Hopefully by the next time we go Essay will be more into bugs like we are.

  11. padkison

    padkison Arachnoangel Old Timer


    Really enjoy these field trip threads. :clap:

    Guess I'd better contribute something (once the weather warms up)
  12. bengerno

    bengerno Arachnobaron Old Timer


    It was fun! :D I like those stuffs you found! Really entertaing. Thanks for shareing! ;)
  13. Vixvy

    Vixvy Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Great finds guys! congrats to both of you! hope I can have some....wink!:drool: :clap: ;)
  14. cacoseraph

    cacoseraph ArachnoGod Old Timer

    my pleasure, Raul. i had a lot of fun. we should try to go out with more people. i think that would be a blast.

    thanks all :)

    anyone who is interested in going on Los Angeles/San Bernardino hunts should PM or start a thread or email me or *something* :)
  15. cacoseraph

    cacoseraph ArachnoGod Old Timer

  16. ftorres

    ftorres Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Bug Hunting trip.

    Hello Raul and Caco

    Let me know when is the next time you guys are going bug hunting,os I can join you guys.

    I live in Los Angeles area, and I don't mind the drive.

    Raul the S robusta is doing great.

    Caco I am interested on seeing a pic of the desert roach please.


  17. cacoseraph

    cacoseraph ArachnoGod Old Timer

    i am still not finished but hopefully will get all the pics done later today... stay tuned
    wastelands 2007 - Feb - 18
    I wanted to catch some scorpions for someone and took a trip to the Wastelands today. i got sun sick a bit, but it was well worth it! Since it wasn't middle of summer sun and heat i tried a new method of storing collected bugs. I kept all the containers of bugs i caught in a carryall and made sure to keep the carryall out of the sun. Well.. i made sure my trusty sidekick, Issa, kept them out of the sun :)

    The carryall (actually what a long since destroyed/lost beach chair came in) had three things in it. The RIGHTmost object is my old under-seat storage pack for my mountain bike that was stolen when i was a teenager. That was what i was using to hold the individual bug containers at first. It has soemthing like 5 tiger centipedes in it, in the picture. The centeral, brown-lidded container has something like 13 millipedes in it. The leftmost container was secondary container for the rest of the centipedes and other stuff i caught that day. All the bugs are alive and kicking at my house now :D

    From left to right (and top to bottom where applicable):
    13 millipedes
    velvet mites (green lid, i got about 15-20), desert cockroach (yellow lid, just one)
    Vaejovidae scorp (vial, probably P. silvestrii), Vaejovidae scorp (lime green lid)
    Strange little yellow cent (lime green lid)
    BIG widow (vial)
    Tiger centipedes(all four powder blue lids, Scolopendra polymorpha)
    Tiger centiepdes(clear lid, red lid, blue lid, pale yellow lid, all S. polymorpha)

    My room mate Issa and i scoured the wastelands for about 6-7 hours today. the point of the mission today was scorpions... and at the start of the sixth hour of looking we were still scorpionless and started to get discouraged. I had saved my favorite scorpion spot in the wastelands for the end... and good thing too! Within five minutes of searching my favorite spot i had caught these two beauties (possibly/probably Paruroctonus silvestrii)
    specimen A

    specimen B

    I had very good luck with centipedes on this hunt. I caught 8 more typically colored Scolopendra polymorpha and one centipede that i believe to be a *stripeless* tiger! if that is the case then i am for sure going to try to breed the characteristic :)
    As far as ID'ing goes the main contender (albeit, out of range by Shelley) to polymorpha woudl be S. viridis. Viridis have ~<=7 smooth basal antenomeres and polymorpha have ~>=7. as this fellow seems to have 9 i believe that eliminates viridis as a possibility. the centipede has 21 walking legs and eyes, so it is not scolopocryptops. i haven't seen pics of Arthrorhabdus pygmaeus but i believe the genus is typically red (and even farther away than viridis). i will have to go to Steven's site to see how to key between Scolopendra and Arthrorhabdus to be sure, though.

    oh yeah, for the record, every baby tiger i have seen so far (150+ between a number of broods) has had definite stripes at this size :)



    "Sensitive to humidity and apt to dry out easily, red velvet mites make their home in the litter layer of woodlands and forests. They live from one to several years, Hammond says, depending on the species. As larvae, they attach themselves to a variety of arthropods and feed parasitically. They will suck blood from a gnat or grasshopper, for instance, sometimes hitching a ride with several other mites. When red velvet mites become nymphs and then adults, they take to the soil to devour much smaller prey, including other mites and their eggs, the eggs of insects and snails, and primitive wingless insects. Unlike their brethren the chigger and the tick, the velvets keep their mouthparts off of humans."
    These might come in handy in mite control in other pets cages... the adults should eat the annoying grain mites. We shall have to see if the larvae are too destructive to risk using these mites as controls though... should be fun to culture at any rate :)


    *sigh* i killed it already. i was hydrating it up and apparently it is rather easy to over do it with these things... poor little guy looks like a water balloon now! learning curve.
    I have seen these dull dust covered roaches a few times before, in the Wastelands... usually partially dismantled and in a web or something... Today i finally caught a good sized (from what i have seen) individual and boy am i glad!
    Site of Water Vapor Absorption in the Desert Cockroach, Arenivaga investigata

    I *think* this is a Latrodectus hesperus... but it could easily be a Steatoda. I have seen bigger in my life :D

    I generally don't care for leafeaters but some of these fellas are kinda cute. Probably 2-4 species in there.


    i am going to research this thing more. i didn't catch it but i did take pictures. if i ever have a full room for just bugs i would like to breed a number of CA crickets that i have not been collecting up to this time. i have seen this species before and another species in the mountains by my house.


    "Desert Horned Lizards have one row of fringe on the sides. Compare with the Coast Horned Lizard which has two."
    There are two species with about the right range:
    Phrynosoma platyrhinos calidiarum "Southern Desert Horned Lizard"
    Phrynosoma coronatum "Coast Horned Lizard"
    but my guy has two rows of fringe spikes so i guess he is a Coast Horned.
    "Habitat, Riverside County. The bare spot in the foreground is a nest of harvester ants, a primary food source for Coast Horned Lizards."
    I let my fella go again, but might go back and collect it if my room mate's connections at a local college want it and have the right paperwork for it.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2007
  18. cacoseraph

    cacoseraph ArachnoGod Old Timer


    i will probaby start a arachnofunction thread soon to try to get a group together to go out to the wastelands. my room mate suggested i park at a er, park that is nearby so now i am less worried about people leaving their cars in what is a semi-rough kind of neighborhood
  19. arachnocat

    arachnocat Arachnoangel Old Timer

    Those velvet mites are cool! I've always wanted to try to keep some. I live in Sonoma County (about an hour from SF). I've never seen any around here. I have found banana slugs, jerusalem crickets and an awesome yellow centipede (was never able to discover what species it was though).
  20. cacoseraph

    cacoseraph ArachnoGod Old Timer

    i have never seen them in concentrations like i do around the wastelands. i have only seen maybe two at the same time but when i flip stuff that has an ant colony underneath it i can usually find one or more VM's. there was some colonies that had a few dozen mites that i could see. apparently these mites are very bad tasting or toxic or something... so they are rocking bright red aposematic coloring and can live amongst ants with virtual impunity.

    regarding that centipede you mentioned... if it was much bigger than 2" bodylength it almost certainly had to be a polymorpha, a la the one in my post above.
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