No, no, it’s a little late for a report about conquistadors roaming the area and it’s not about Fabrizio (pianofab) either. Let me start at the beginning. The plan was for a 3.5 mile solo hike to find 4 caches at the former Ahmanson Ranch including 3 new ones hidden by Marty (tozainamboku). Saturday morning conditions were ideal at the Las Virgenes trailhead.
And the 10 minute walk to the oft visited “T” intersection was uneventful. A right turn (East) and a short uphill section led to the non-Marty cache Nothin’ But Geo (GC2JTPA). I was lucky to walk up on it. My GPSr still showed “40 feet” when I had the container in-hand. Later, at home I saw that Fabrizio DNF’d it the day before and there were multiple complaints about bad coordinates.
Back on track, 600’ further on there was a junction with the newly reopened trail to Marty’s caches. It started out flat.
I passed a tree that has cache-potential, except that there’s another, old, cache 200’ away on a parallel trail.
There was a sharp upward turn. It was a good workout to reach Marty’s 3 caches where I was 2nd to find:
This is a look back from the turnaround point near the last cache above.
OK, about the European invaders… In the middle of the trail at the 1st cache in this post, I saw some bright red clumps. At first I thought they were out of season toyon berries. A closer look showed that they were beetle-like insects. I’d never seen the species in 20 years of hiking. They weren’t flying or very active so I cautiously took close up pictures and kept hiking.
A few days later I remembered to search online to identify the bugs. Immediately I found them at Center for Invasive Species Research (at UC Irvine). They’re identified as the “Red Bug,” Scantius aegyptius, native to the Eastern Mediterranean and first documented in Southern California in 2009. European Invaders!! They’re not reported in Ventura County so my sighting (a mile from the county line) may be the farthest West the bugs have been spotted.
I’m glad that, unlike for some other SFV Geo hikers, MY insect encounter didn’t involve running away screaming and flailing, stings, bites, welts, pain meds and anti-histamines. (Now watch. I’ll probably fall into a fire ant mound next week.)