We also found a geocache here, completely by chance
The morning's prize: the Oso Flaco Flightless Moth. Powell described this species in 1972 based on collections from the nearby Dune Lakes, which are apparently inaccessible these days. As you might guess the moth cannot fly, but it does have enlarged hind legs that allow it to jump up and get carried by the breeze that is almost always blowing over the dunes. Its mixture of scurrying and wind-catching is pretty much how you find it, because as you can see it's really small and perfectly camouflaged in the sand. I believe it's the only species of moth in North America where both males and females cannot fly.
They like active sand and diurnal. Powell recommended looking for them on exposed slopes in the dunes near vegetation, though we ended up finding them at the crest of a dune. The larval tubes can be found by digging fairly close to the surface under vegetation. They attach to the roots so the larvae can feed.
Liam, of course, spotted them first, and Powell had not seen them for many years, so it was a good day for all.
These are the silk tubes the larvae weave in the sand. According to Powell there are several other inverts that weave silk tubes in sand, but the tubes of this moth are always attached to living vegetation, often early stabilizing plants like Ambrosia, but they are generalists that will feed on many dune plants, including Eriophyllum (shown here), lupines, coyotemints, etc.
Extraordinary morning walking the surrounding dunes of Oso Flaco Lake in search of a moth Dr. Jerry Powell discovered in 1972. Ken-ichi and I helped him find it: the Oso Flaco Flightless Moth. He'd not seen it in as many years. Let's be clear...he discovered a new GENUS of moth.
Acmon Blue female ovipositing in second shot...
We went to Oso Flaco Lake to search for flightless moth Dr. Powell had discovered there decades back. No moth. Amazing place.
6 ft tall- by state park trail