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Bugs | High Sierra Backpacker

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All BUGS, SPIDERS & Other Mountain INSECT NEWS sticky icon

The World of Insects and the Spiders that Eat Them

We've got worlds of wonder in the High Sierra looking in any direction. The ground and sky are full of vibrant insect communities. Some, like the mosquitoes, are winged devils. Others are winged delights. On the ground we find spiders trying to catch and eat them all.

This forum started out as the Spider Forum, but has been expanded to include the various insects we encounter that are not Bees, Butterflies, and Mosquitoes, which have their own dedicated pages.

High Sierra Insects



Greg Lasley


Greg Lasley


Insect Societies

Spider Sites Index


American Arachnological Society


How Ticks Work

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Bee-Flower Mismatches Rising with Temperatures



Two Solitary Bees and Their Flower
European orchard bee, the red mason bee and the pasque flower, Sandra Kehrberger, University of Würzburg.
Global warming can disrupt the mutualistic interactions of plants and pollinators as in the case of the European orchard bee, the red mason bee and the pasque flower. Sandra Kehrberger, University of Würzburg.


Bee-Flower Mismatches Rising with Temperatures

How Climate Change Disrupts Relationships,
University of Würzburg, July 24, 2019.


Bee & Flower Imbalanced
"The pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris), for example, is very sensitive to rising temperatures by flowering earlier each year, whereas one of its major pollinators, a solitary bee species, does not quite keep pace by hatching earlier. In the worst case, this may cause the seed production of the plant to decrease and impair reproduction while requiring the bee to switch to other plants to forage on to compensate for the lack of food supply."

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Changing Timing of Life Bleeding Fertility Out of Nature, The Case of the Japanese Bumblebees



Big Jap Bumbler & Its (Once) Perfectly Timed Plant Pal
Jap Bumblebee Visits Corydalis Ambigua after Overwintering, Yuimi Hirabayashi (Bihoro Museum), Hokkaido University.
Coming in for Landing: A far Northern Japanese Bumblebee visits Corydalis ambigua after overwintering, by Yuimi Hirabayashi (Bihoro Museum), Hokkaido University.


Changing Timing of Life Bleeding Fertility Out of Nature

Early arrival of spring disrupts the mutualism between plants and pollinators,
Hokkaido University, July 12, 2019.


Bummer for Jap Bumblers & Flowers…
"...demonstrated that early snowmelt results in the spring ephemeral Corydalis ambigua flowering ahead of the emergence of its pollinator, the bumblebee."

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Nasty Asian longhorned Tick Rapidly Filling up Staten Island, NY, & East Coast



July 2019
Direct to Article

Savage Tick-Clone Armies are Sucking Cows to Death; Experts Fear for Humans, ArsTechnica, July 11, 2019.


Deadly Tick Attacks
"Ravenous swarms of cloned ticks have killed a fifth cow in North Carolina by exsanguination—that is, by draining it of blood—the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services warned this week."

Clone Armies of Death
"...a single well-fed female can spawn up to 2,000 tick clones parthenogenetically—that is, without mating—in a matter of weeks."

Unique Persistence
"...unlike other ticks that tend to feast on a victim for no more than seven days, mobs of H. longicorni can latch on for up to 19 days."

"...the National Veterinary Services Laboratories looked back through their tick samples and discovered a larval H. longicornis was isolated from a white-tailed deer in Tyler County, West Virginia, in 2010, backdating the first case known in the US. Still, researchers don’t know when the tick first arrived and were it came from."

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Exposure to Deadly Aedes Mosquitoes & their Diseases Doubling with Global Warming



It Begins Here
The Main Culprits: Humans, followed by Aedes Aegypti

 Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae, credit to NIAID (CC BY 2.0, 2016).
Aedes Aegypti Mosquito Larvae, credit to NIAID (CC BY 2.0, 2016)


It Ends Here:
Killer Skeeters Benefit Greatly from our Heating of our Environment
Aedes aegypti feeding in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Muhammad Mahdi Karim, Wiki.
Aedes aegypti feeding in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Muhammad Mahdi Karim, Wiki

Two Teams Report

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Spider Babies Like Spider Milk


Spider Babies Drink Spider Milk

The Next Health Food Fad for Yuppies we will see at Whole Foods?

Until leaving the nest, jumping spiders suckle spider milk from their moms,
American Association for the Advancement of Science, November 29, 2018.


Spider Milk!
“...some baby jumping spiderlings are entirely dependent on nutritious spider milk secreted and fed to them by their mothers. What's more, spider mothers continue to care for and feed their offspring the nutritious milk-like fluid - which contains nearly four times the protein of cow's milk - into their subadult lives and long after they're able to forage on their own.”

8 Spider Tits?
“...the possibility that long-term, milk-provisioning maternal care may be more common in the animal kingdom than previously believed.”

Spider Maternity
“While lactation-like provisioning is known elsewhere in the animal kingdom, the intensity and duration of associated parental care is uniquely mammalian and thought to increase fitness by providing the opportunity for offspring to learn behaviors crucial for survival.”

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US Anopheles Skeeter Spreading New Mayaro Virus in US?


Another US Skeeter Spreading Another New Disease?

Anopheles mosquitoes could spread Mayaro virus in US, other diverse regions,
Penn State, November 8, 2018.


New Disease, Mayaro Virus
"Mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles are well known as primary vectors of malaria. But a new study suggests that Anopheles species, including some found in the United States, also are capable of carrying and transmitting an emerging pathogen, Mayaro virus, which has caused outbreaks of disease in South America and the Caribbean."

Widespread Concerns
"...imported cases may be on the rise, with several reported recently in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland."

Regional Skeeter Suitability
"In this study, the researchers tested six mosquito species -- Aedes aegypti, Anopheles freeborni, An. gambiae, An. quadrimaculatus, An. stephensi and Culex quinquefasciatus -- for their ability to transmit two strains of the Mayaro virus."

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UK Bees, 2018: 2 of 25 Species Extinct, 8 Endangered

Carder Bee in UK, by Richard Comont.
Carder Bee in UK, by Richard Comont.

2 of 25 Species Extinct, 8 Endangered

UK bumblebee population trends,
University of Kent, October 29, 2018.


"Britain's 25 bumblebee species are some of the nation's favourite creatures and are also vital for the pollination of crops, garden plants and wildflowers."

2 of 25 Extinct, 8 Endangered
"...they have suffered huge declines over the past century: two species went extinct in the past 80 years, and eight species are endangered."


The Buzz

Manzanita Bee in Trouble

Bee News, A Symphony of Bees Buzzing: Water and Sky Harmony Required

Bee News: Fungiciedes and Insecticides Getting the Bees

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New fly species, Lucilia cuprina, found in Indiana Indicates Changing Climate


As Fast As Possible

New fly species found in Indiana may indicate changing climate, says IUPUI researcher,
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science, October 19, 2018.


Lucilia cuprina
“A new type of blow fly spotted in Indiana points to shifting species populations due to climate change.”

"There is definitely a northward movement of species -- not just insects, but all species -- as they try to find temperatures where they are more comfortable."

Bottom Line

Trees, birds, bees, beetles, and even the flies are all migrating North as fast as they can, before it's too late.


Warming Insects

Crop Losses due to Insects could nearly Double in Europe's Bread Basket

Beetles Devastate Billions of Western Pine Trees
Heat, Droughts, Beetles, & Fires All Continue Rising

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SKEETER TECH: Mosquito’s Resonant and Discordant Hearing


Skeeter’s Resonant and Discordant Hearing

Built-in sound amplifier helps male mosquitoes find females,
University College London, September 25, 2018.


“The ears of male mosquitoes amplify the sound of an approaching female using a self-generated phantom tone that mimics the female's wingbeats, which increases the ear's acoustic input by a factor of up to 45,000...”


Bad Dudes
“...studied three mosquito species: the malaria-carrying Anopheles gambiae, the Zika virus and dengue carrying Aedes aegypti and the West Nile virus carrying Culex quinquefasciatus.”


The Objective
“...mate in swarms, which are typically mostly formed of males with only one or a few females entering at a time, so the males need to pick out the sound of an approaching female from the noise of surrounding males. ”


Resonant Amplification
“...investigating why the flagella (lash-like protrusions) of the male antennae (mosquitoes hear with their antennae) can vibrate spontaneously at roughly the same frequency of the female wingbeat.”


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Fear and Perception

To flee or not to flee: how the brain decides what to do in the face of danger,
Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, September 12, 2018.


"Just like any other animal in nature, our reaction to a threat is invariably one of the following three: escape, fight, or freeze in place with the hope of remaining unnoticed"

"These behaviours are fundamental, but we still don't know what the rules of the game are: in each situation, how does the brain decide which of the three strategies to implement and how does it ensure that the body carries it through?"

The Threat
“...we placed the flies in a covered dish and exposed them to an expanding dark circle (which is how a threat looks like to a fly)...”

Fear Response
“...the flies' response hinged on their walking speed at the moment the threat appeared. If the fly was moving slowly, it would freeze, but if it was walking quickly, it would run away from the threat.”


Some Thoughts on Fear

This research indicates that the Flies strategies are controlled by physics, conforming with the fundamental fact that, “things at rest tend to stay at rest, things in motion tend to stay in motion.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018 Tick Alert, FYI: Tick Infections Rising


Tick Alert, FYI: Tick Infections Rising

Public Health & Mountain Safety Information

Tickborne diseases are likely to increase, say NIAID officials,
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, July 25, 2018.

We don't get many ticks up along the Sierra Crest & its high flanks, though I have rarely encountered ticks at elevation, likely shed by migrating deer. Temperate zones down the Western Flank of the Sierra, and the temperate Doug Fir Forests along Coastal Range, are full of ticks.



"The incidence of tickborne infections in the United States has risen significantly within the past decade."


"...are likely many factors contributing to increased Lyme disease incidence in the U.S., greater tick densities and their expanding geographical range have played a key role."


"...Lyme disease representing the majority (82 percent) of reported cases."

"...10 to 20 percent of patients report lingering symptoms after effective antimicrobial therapy."


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July, 2018: A New Member of Bacterial Family Causing Lyme Disease




A New Member of Bacterial Family Causing Lyme Disease

Borrelia Mayonii

A new bacterium that causes Lyme Disease,
AGU, July 4, 2018.

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Dept of Flying Spiders: The Complex Webs Nature Weaves




Dept of Flying Spiders

The Complex Webs Nature Weaves

Flying spiders sense meteorological conditions, use nanoscale fibers to float on the wind,
PLOS, June 14, 2018.


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Global Mosquito Movement, Asian tiger mosquito on the move


Global Mosquito Movement

Zika, Dengue, West Nile, & Chikungunya Move with Them

Asian tiger mosquito on the move,
Goethe University Frankfurt, May 18, 2018.

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Mosquitoes and Seasonal Temperature Shifts: Backpacking the High Sierra.


Skeeter Video One
Attack in the Emigrant Basin, Emigrant Wilderness


  Backpacking the High Sierras 



2017-2018 News of Note


Mosquitoes and Seasonal Temperature Shifts

Two important things about the changing seasons in the High Sierras
    Two deeply interrelated realities strike me as being very important to average backpackers about the seasonal temperature changes in the High Sierras. The first concerns shifting your gear with the changing temps. The second is the High Sierra Mosquito Cycle.

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SKEETER NEWS 2018: Warming Climate Spreading Skeeters, Ticks, & their Diseases



Warming Climate Spreading Skeeters, Ticks, & their Diseases

Climate change promotes the spread of mosquito and tick-borne viruses,
European Commission Joint Research Centre, March 16, 2018.


Threat Levels

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Bee News, A Symphony of Bees Buzzing: Water and Sky Harmony Required


Bee News
Symphony of Bees Buzzing

Water and Air Harmony Required

The more kinds of bees, the better for humans, Rutgers-led study finds,
Rutgers University, February 15, 2018.

"The larger an area, the more species of wild bees are needed to pollinate crops."

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Bee News, Global Polinator Kings in Trouble, but it's Good to be King


Bee News
Bees #1 Polinator

Global Polinator Kings, In Trouble, but it's Good to be King

Worldwide importance of honey bees for natural habitats captured in new report,
University of California - San Diego, January 10, 2018.


Tracking Flying Bees

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High Sierra Bug News: Invasive White Satin Moth Infests Eastern Tahoe Basin



High Sierra Bug News
Non-Native Invasive Moth

Tahoe Basin Invasion

Invasive White Satin Moth Infests Eastern Tahoe Basin

Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park moth infestation diminishing fall foliage,
Tahoe Daily Tribune, October 22, 2017.


A Native Sierra Nevada Moth

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