The entrance to French Joe Canyon
I’m way behind on posting about my Arizona trip. The problem is that once I got to the conference, I was going the entire time, from about 6 AM till after midnight most nights. So this week, I’ll play catch up and recap my trip. Last Wednesday was the day that we drove from Tucson down to Rio Rico for the conference. We did not, however, take the direct route. Our path took us far to the east to Benson, Arizona, where we headed south along the east flank of the Whetstone Mountains to a favorite collecting spot called French Joe Canyon.
John and I have been visiting French Joe for about five years now. We first discovered it late in the day, and were only able to take a short walk. We quickly discovered a large population of a beautiful metallic wood-boring beetle called Gyascutus caelatus. These bad boys are about as big as my thumb, and take off with an alarming buzzing sound. They sit in the branches of acacia shrubs, and feed on the foliage and flowers. This is the first time I’ve managed to get photos.
We found lots of other beautiful stuff, including an amazing longhorn beetle called Trachyderes mandibularis. I’m not really happy with the photos- they don’t pose well. This is another big bug, about as big as the Guyascuta, and that’s if you don’t count the antennae. Their elytra (wing covers) are a very shiny black and yellow pattern. They look like they have been shellacked.
The plateau above San Rafael Valley, with approaching thunderstorm
John descends from the plateau into San Rafael Valley
Painted Grasshopper (Dactylotum bicolor)
We grabbed a quick lunch at a convenience store (this was the trip of eating badly) and headed further south to the head of San Rafael Valley. Just above San Rafael is a brood grassland plateau. We encountered very beautiful painted grasshoppers there. Descending into the valley itself, we found a diversity of other interesting grasshopper species. At one point, I was walking down a dry creek bed, and a nearby manzanita bush began making a very alarming buzzing sound. Retreating to the bank above the creek bed, I discovered that the source of the sound was a black-tailed rattlesnake. Alarming, but I managed to get pictures.
Boy, could this guy play the maracas
Be this time, the day was winding down. We were chased from San Rafael by an approaching thunderstorm. We decided to call it a day, and arrived at Rio Rico just in time to freshen up before the Bugs In Bondage Buffet.
OMG - Bugs in Bondage!