Author: Jim Moore

Mounds Of The Red Wood Ant

The Biggest Ant Hill By Jim Moore, Entomologist Somewhere, in a remote corner of the Mountain Meadows Basin, in Lassen County, is monster ant hill at least three feet tall;  the home of Red Wood Ants.  When I first encountered this mega ant hill over twenty-five years ago it was a bit smaller and mound shaped; and it was the only ant mound to be found in the area. Now it is more like a cone shaped ant megalopolis, with three nearby smaller ‘satellite’ ant mound colonies. Our local Red Wood ants maintain sophisticated colonies. They build their mounds...

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Crawdads, Crayfish, and Mud Bugs!

    By Jim Moore, Entomologist These are three common names, amongst others, for the same little wild fresh water crustacean that has helped put the state of Louisiana on the world map of fine culinary cuisine.  They are actually called ‘Crawfish’ by folks in Louisiana. There, crawfish biologists  have done an excellent job of perfecting the skills, and it is almost an art form, of farm raising crayfish on a massive scale, producing over 90% percent of the US commercially raised crawfish. Folks in Northern California mostly use the names Crawdad, or Crayfish. Nor Cal crayfish farmers, using rice...

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Miner’s Lettuce Northern California’s Preeminent Wild Edible Green

By Jim Moore, Entomologist Of the native edible wild greens found in North America, very few if any, have made their way into the gardens of folks throughout the world more than what we here in California call Miner’s Lettuce, species Claytonia perfoliata.  Just as we also have several wild growing healthy greens from the Old World,  such as dandelion, lamb’s quarters, and purslane;  so now our own Miner’s lettuce can also be found growing wild ‘over there’ in suitable fields and woodlands. Miner’s Lettuce grows natively from Alaska south to Central America, and eastward as far as Montana....

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California’s Pink Glowworm

By Jim Moore, Entomologist A few years back, while spending a spring weekend at a nice Sierra foothill vacation rental home, I had gone out onto the back deck to gaze down into the wooded hillside as the light of the evening gave way to the darkness of night. While pondering the moonless transition before me, I noticed a small bright green light appear on the deck rail off to my right a bit. I moved over to see the source of this light, and was surprised to see my first California bioluminescent bug! I had seen fireflies back...

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Food From The Wild- Toyon

Toyon – California’s Own Christmas Berry Can Be Toxic By Jim Moore, Entomologist Photo Courtesy Of nps.gov Toyon, California’s own native counterpart to Christmas Holly, is a beautiful large evergreen bush that grows throughout the Coastal, Sierra, and Cascade foothill regions of California. Toyon is celebrated for its dense clusters of bright red berries that ripen just in time for the Christmas season. Other less common names are Christmas Berry and California Holly. In the years preceding the roaring twenties the survival of Toyon in Southern California was severely endangered by the over-harvesting of the berry laden branches for...

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