Monday, April 25, 2011

Undercover San Diego: National Wildlife Refuge

The full name of this place was too much to put in the title, San Diego NWR (National Wildlife Refuge) -Otay-Sweetwater Unit. As most government websites, the website for this Refuge is a bit confusing and doesn't have much information. So hopefully the below description will help you get a good impression of the place.
I participated in a guided hike with "Ranger Lisa and native plant experts from RECON Environmental, Inc.". One of our good friends works for RECON and was an expert, so that made it even more enjoyable. See the map below or to find a good trailhead just map "3570 Par 4 Dr, Jamul, CA". Park at the end of the Cul-de-sac and you will see the trailhead.

View San Diego National Wildlife Refuge in a larger map

I learned a good bit from walking with these experts and it is a very fun way to take a hike. I'd say it was more like a stroll because it's just so easy to stop and ask questions. I have posted a few photos of some of the more common plants.

 Everlasting - I used a similar plant (the bi-color species) in my Native Gruit. Smells wonderful, some people think it smells like maple syrup.

 Funnel Web Spider
 Miner's Lettuce - edible, we found from testing that the bigger the leaf the less bitter.
 Native Morning Glory - these are very easy to identify due to the leaf shape (arrow-head)
 Wild Barley - look for a future post, I am looking into malting my own for beer.
 Wild Honey Suckle
 Yellow Yarrow - This was used in my Gruit

I sent this picture off to my insect expert friend, Jordan. Check the response.
"Beautiful!! That little caterpillar is infested with endoparasitic wasps. I am not sure what the parasitoid is (i.e., the animal that laid the eggs in the caterpillar), but I would guess it would be from the family Braconidae ( The animal inserts its eggs into the caterpillar with its long ovipositor, then after the eggs hatch and the larvae eat the animal from the inside, they make the cocoons that you see there. Then they will emerge as beautiful little adult wasps and the females will mate and then search for another caterpillar to start the whole process again. The circle of life.....isn't it beautiful!"

1 comment:

  1. Great work Jeff! That was a great hike. Love the pics I'll have the headcam online soon.


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