Mining Pollution Legacy and Clean-Up

In the mid-1850’s hydraulic mining filled the stream channels and muddied the waters all the way down to the Pacific Ocean.

Mercury was used in sluice boxes to amalgamate gold. “It is estimated that ten million pounds of mercury were lost into the streams,” comments Kyle Leach, Geologist for Sierra Streams Institute.

“The tale of the Gold Rush is a greedy tale,” says Shelly Covert, Nisenan Tribal Council Secretary. “Miners came for the land and for the gold. All of the trees, waterways, fish, and plants that  our families lived on were gone.”

 

Resources:

Crow’s Range: An Environmental History of the Sierra Nevada, by David Beesley [KXJZ, Insight interview 35:46]

Nisenan Tribal Members Collect Scientific Data to Restore the Land (2017)

Abandoned Mine Clean-Up | Sierra Streams Institute

  • Providence Mine (2015)
  • Stiles Mill (2013) – Under Pine Street Bridge
  • Pioneer Park (2017)
  • Providence Quartz Mill (ongoing) – off Providence Mine Rd.

2009

 

Development of Lake Wildwood & Current Events

“Ed Colwell owned the Anthony House [current location of Lake Wildwood] before Boise Cascade bought it…  He had peacocks and big white geese, which he would rent out for such things [as] pulling weeds from spinach beds. He raised turkeys and some cows. Mostly, however, he raised horses. He had 300 brook mares and one Palomino stud…He sold the Palomino colts. This was during the Roy Rogers era; …Everybody wanted a Palomino,”  says Alice Magonigle in the article Long-Time Rancher Looks Back by Marianne McKnight, 1999 – Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce.

  • 1967 ranch land purchased by Boise Cascade
  • 1968 Lake Wildwood Association incorporation
  • 1969 early summer – construction began on the dam, road construction, golf course, marina, and buildings
  • 1969 Lake Wildwood filled

 

E. Coli Contamination at Lake Wildwood

CBS 13 – Sacramento – Geese Euthanization – July 12, 2018
KNCO – E.Coli Restrictions Still In Place Lake Wildwood – Feb. 23. 2018
LWW Association – 2017 E.Coli Outbreak

If you liked this blog post, you might also like, Anthony House & Penn Valley Under Lake Wildwood.

 

Resources:

Articles:  Urban refugees, country-seekers flock to Nevada County developments for ‘good life’– The Union – July 27, 2014
 ‘The History Below the Waters of Lake Wildwood’ – The Union – May 14, 2019
Book: Shapping the Sierra; Nature, Culture and Conflict in the Changing West by Timothy P. Duane – LWW sewage treatment plant

1996 Lake Drain

Video: 1969/70 Boise Cascade development in San Bernadino County

Website: Lake Wildwood Home Owners Association

Pill Bug – Heavy Metal Detector of the Underworld

The shrimp sized roly-poly kids love to play with has a night job making soil a nicer place to live…if you’re a plant or microorganism.

Photo Credit: Franco Folini

Also Known As…

Doodle bugs, potato bugs, wood shrimp, pill woodlouse, armadillo bug, log-louse, boat-builder (Newfoundland), cheeselog (England), chiggy pig (Devon, England), monkey-peas (Kent, England), and slater (Scotland) these tiny animals are best known for a defense reaction.

Conglobation is the act of rolling into a ball. Entomologists say this behavior also preserves water when the surroundings become too dry.

Pill bugs are isopods (without a backbone); not bugs at all, they are crustaceans most closely related to shrimp and lobster.

Photo Credit: Sandstein

The scientific name, Armadillidium vulgare, was given for its likeness to the armadillo conglobation behavior.

Out of the Water but Retaining Moisture

Millions of years ago, these crustaceans moved from the ocean and adapted to life on land.  Gills formed pleopods that act like lungs. These must be kept moist to function.

Staying damp is a powerful pill bug motivator.

A fascinating behavior is a 911 pheromone call. Responding to the chemical communication, a large number (70+) of like-species aggregate. Animals arrive to cover an individual with their bodies to assist with water retention.

Habitat

Typical habitat is under rocks, leaves, or fallen logs and in compost piles. Generally, millipedes, earthworms, and sow bugs are found in the same places. Pill bugs need moisture, but they don’t like saturation.

Studies measuring the biomass (total number) of animals in different locations on farms found that pill bug populations are stronger in untilled soil and in environments where pesticides have not been used.

Because pill bugs need calcium to maintain their exoskeleton; they prefer soil with a neutral pH.

Although Armadillidium vulgare can be found during the day, most of their activity occurs at night.

Diet

Fortunately, pill bug dietary requirements align with the need for moisture. They feed on decaying wood, plant matter, and fungus. Occasionally they will also graze on algae and lichens.

Their excrement further breaks down nutrients making them available for microorganisms and tree roots.

Heavy Metal Indicators

Pill bugs consume copper, zinc, lead, and cadmium. Rather than absorbing and eliminating the metals, they accumulate and store them in digestive glands. Because of this, pill bugs are useful bioindicators of heavy metal pollution.

Predators

Predators include ground beetles, scorpions, spiders, birds, frogs, toads, newts, and lizards. When young are soft after molting, sometimes pill bugs eat each other.

Life Cycle

Females produce one to two broods per year consisting of 100 to 200 eggs. She carries them in a marsupium-like pouch on her underside for nearly a month. After hatching, the young remain in the pouch for several weeks, feeding off marsupial fluid.

Once leaving the mother, babies molt every two weeks for the next four-and-a-half months gaining body segments and additional legs.

Adults can live for two to five years.

Next time you spot a roly-poly, you’ll appriciate that its much more
than a ‘bug’ that rolls into a ball.

If you liked this post, you may also like Cuckoo Wasp – A Living Jewel.

Resources:

click image to order or see more Life on the Creek art

American Orchid Society – Sow Bugs and Pill Bugs
Carolina Biological “Critters in the Classroom” Pillbugs
Encyclopedia of Life – Armadillidium vulgare
GoExploreNature.com – Build a Roly-Poly Terrarium
Insect Identification

Isopod Newsletter
Marine Species.Org – Isopodia
Macalester.edu – Ordway Biodiversity Inventory
Maurizio G. Paoletti, Dipartimento di Biologia Università di Padova
lab. Agroecology and Ethnobiology
–  Woodlice: their potential for sustainability and as bioindicators
Midwood Science Research – macro pillbug photos
PBS – Pill bugs emerged from the sea to conquer the Earth
Science Daily – Invasive Roly-polys Might Actually Help The Soil, Study Reveals (2005)
Scientific American – Student Science – Springtime Science: What’s Home Sweet Home to a Bug?
ThoughtCo. – 15 Fascinating facts about Pill Bugs  (Note: Isopod photo with the article is a Sow Bug.)
University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources – How to Manage Pests in 
Garden Landscapes
University of Illinois Extension – Composting for the Homeowner
University of Florida – Pill BugWikipedia.org – Armadillidium vulgare
Wikipedia.org – Woodlouse

 

Cuckoo Wasp – A Living Jewel

The Cuckoo wasp is an eye-catching creature that is easy to see.

Its brilliant turquoise color is created when light refracts between the hollow layers of the exoskeleton. This adaptation makes the stealthy insect virtually invisible when it enters the dark burrows of its prey.

Foraging for nectar during a hot afternoon. Cuckoo wasps are most active between May and August.

The Cuckoo wasp is parasitic. It watches and waits to find ground bee and wasp nests. To enter, it will often hitch rides on victims being dragged inside. The bumpy exoskeleton of the Cuckoo wasp protects it from stings.  It also has an indented midsection, like a pill bug, that allows it to curl into a ball– another protective measure. Once inside, the Cuckoo wasp lays its eggs inside the host larvae. Its stinger evolved into an egg-laying tube, so it couldn’t hurt you if you wanted to let one crawl on your hand.

One species of Cuckoo wasp first came to California from Africa in the mid-nineteenth century. It parasitized mud dobber larvae aboard sailing ships.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like Pill Bug – Heavy Metal Detector of the Underworld.

Resources:

Bay Nature Magazine – Bug Guide

Texas A&M- Cuckoo Wasps

Wikipedia – Cuckoo Wasp

Bird’s Nest Fungi – Spores Spread by Rain Drops

At first glance, they look like curious, minuscule insect nests. Tiny baskets, holding a collection of

‘eggs,’ clinging to a dead log at the edge of Deer Creek.

Identification investigations revealed something more interesting than ‘just’ insects.  Bird’s Nest Fungi – Nidulariaceae, Cyathus stercoreus – mushrooms that use raindrops to propagate.

Moving with the Rain

Raindrops aren’t the only way they move from place to place. At the base of the peridiole (spore sack) is a cord that unfurls when disturbed. Like newborn spiders, these cords are long and sticky. They cling to whoever or whatever passes by.

Anatomy of a Fungus

Once the peridiole drops off or is eaten and excreted by an animal, the spores are released to begin a new life cycle.

The ‘nests’ are approximately five millimeters in diameter, about half the size of a pencil top.

Bird’s Nest Fungi can be seen in late winter and early spring. Look for them in shady places growing on dead or decomposing wood.

Click on image to order or see more Life on the Creek art

Resources:

Fungi of California

Mushrooms, Fungi, Mycology

Wikipedia – Bird’s Nest Fungi – Nidulariaceae