Willcox Playa with the Dragoon Mountains in the background
To experience some of the finer things in life, you have to travel. Want some really fine wine? Bordeaux or the Rhine Valley might fit the bill. For art glass, go to Venice. And for the finest in tiger beetles, you have to go to...Willcox, Arizona? Who would have thought. But it's true, this old lakebed hosts over 20 species of tiger beetles, including about 4 that are endmeic or near endemic forms.
Cicindela marutha- the Arid Lands Tiger Beetle
Cicindela ocellata - The Ocellated Tiger Beetle
My day at Willcox was not as good as my visit last year. the reason can be seen in the photo. Many of the salt flats that offered some of the best activity last year have been flooded in the heavy monsoon rains this season. Where there were thousands of beetles across the salt pan last year, there are now hundreds on the edges of the pool. Still, it was a pretty good day. I saw six species. That's three fewer than last year. Sadly, the three that I didn't see were the three I most wanted specimens of. Oh well, I did get some photos. I'm very pleased that my pictures of Cicindela marutha are the first photos of living individuals to be posted on BugGuide.net. I also saw some amazing huge ant mounds.
Cicindela puctulata chihuahuae - The Punctured Tiger Beetle
HUGE ant mound. It's nearly 3 feet high.
My day ended earlier than I would have liked because a huge thuderstorm descended on us. I had a bit of trouble getting out of the Playa due to flooding of the dirt road that leads into it. Fortunately, I was able to make it out in time to get to my much anticipated meeting with Kathie of the Sycamore Canyon blog. Kathie and her husband Gus were delightful hosts and all-around great folks. I really enjoyed meeting them in person. The super yummy homemade pizza for dinner didn't hurt things, either.
Kathie and me. Photo by Gus.
After dinner, Kathie and I went blacklighting in the wash behind her house. It was her first black lighting experience. We saw a bunch of scarab beetles and some really cool sphinx moths. The whole day got my Arizona trip off to a great start. Now I'm about to head off for lunch at Rosa's with Sandy. This is turning into my trip to meet other bloggers in person.
Blacklight setup in wash in Sycamore Canyon. The moths are mostly white-lined sphinx.