Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Arizona Before the Conference

Flame Skimmer (Libellula saturata) in Tanque Verde Canyon

I've been back from the annual Bug Conference in Arizona for nearly a week now. The trip was fun, and I'm just now feeling like life is getting back to normal. I wanted to concentrate a lot on my insect photography. Later I realized that I had done so almost to the exclusion of other photography. For example, on my first day in Arizona, Homer and I went down to Bisbee to visit Cobban and Ray. I took a couple of photos of a tiger beetle by their pool, but none of any of them nor of Cobban and Ray's beautiful house. Ah, well.

Filagree Skimmer (Pseudoleon superbus )

Mexican Amberwing (Perithemis intensa)

It has been unusually hot and dry this year, so the insects were not what they have been in previous years. The Sunday before last, I went out to Tanque Verde Canyon and photographed dragonflies. It was brutally hot, and I did not stay terribly long. I brought my usual amount of water, and it was inadequate for the extreme heat. I saw some cool species and collected a couple of interesting Buprestid beetles.

Willcox Playa

On Monday I went back to Willcox Playa to photograph tiger beetles. It was difficult for a variety of reasons. Due to the dry conditions, there were not that many beetles, and very poor species diversity. I had my new, better camera with me, and wanted to get better shots of both the Aridlands Tiger Beetle (Cicindela marutha) and the Black Sky Tiger Beetle (Cicindela nigrocoerulea). I succeeded from the standpoint that I now have better pictures of both of these species, but I'm still not entirely satisfied. There's always next year.

Aridlands Tiger Beetle (Cicindela marutha)

Black Sky Tiger Beetle (Cicindela nigrocoerulea)

On Tuesday of last week, I headed down to Rio Rico, but not before detouring west to Kitt Peak. I wanted to see and try to photograph gorgeous longhorn beetles in the genus Tragidion. I've seen them there before. Alas, the habitat where I had previously seen them had burned recently and was still looking pretty scorched.

Scorched vegetation at Kitt Peak

There was not a lot to see at Kitt Peak this year. I collected a couple of buprestid beetles (Agrilus pulchellus) at the roadside picnic area below the mountain. Part way up the mountain, I got another very pretty Agrilus, black with a bright metallic red head, on mesquite. There were some nice grasshoppers to photograph at the picnic area at the summit.

Slant-faced Grasshopper (Psoloessa texana) at the summit of Kitt Peak

So the insect viewing, photography, and collecting were not as good this year as they have been the past few times I have visited. Still, it was southeast Arizona during the monsoon season, and I can think of nowhere else I would have rather been.

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At 22:01, Blogger Randy Emmitt said...


Well done, I especially liked the tiger beetle photos!

At 22:27, Blogger T.R. said...

Are you absolutely sure you don't need an assistant! This is all so damn beautiful. That tiger beetle - is it real? I've been searching for two years now - nothing. I think you've made them all up!

At 00:08, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not one, but two tiger beetles (one I've not yet collected - nigrocoerulea). I love this post!

If those tiger photos aren't perfect, they sure are pretty darned good. I feel the same way about the ones I took this week in Florida - I'll go ahead and post them, but I got what I'll call 'perfect' shots of only 2 of the 8 species I found.

Funny that AZ has had a hot, dry season - my travels to OK, MO, and now FL have all encountered a banner year moisture-wise. Sometimes you luck out, and sometimes you don't.


At 07:23, Blogger Floridacracker said...

Great photos!

At 10:16, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Randy- Thanks. I've been enjoying your blog.

T.R.- Well, sir, you are going to be in Arizona in just a couple of months. I'd suggest having Kathie take you out to Willcox Playa. It's only a bit over an hour from her house. If you do go, email me and I'll tell you how to get to where the tiger beetles are.

Ted- Thanks. I always feel especially complimented when you like my photos. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your Florida tiger pictures. The season in Arizona has been strange. We were not getting rain, yet almost every day you could see the thunderstorms building further to the east in New Mexico.

FC- Thanks. I'll be heading out your way fairly soon.

At 10:41, Anonymous John krueger said...

Cool pictures doug, I especially like the dragonflies!

At 12:05, Blogger Ur-spo said...

I think it is a comfort that supposedly 'dead' and dry areas are nevertheless with life - or dormant life

At 21:54, Blogger Texas Travelers said...

Really nice photos and post. Some of us would just liked to have seen those Tigers, not to mention photographing them.

Nice dragons and hopper also. Thats a hopper I haven't seen.

thanks for sharing.


At 15:57, Blogger rodger said...

Nice photos Doug. I especially like the amberwing and the skimmer. Of course...if I were to encounter the skimmmer, I'd probably think it a mosquito and smack it.

At 21:56, Blogger Doug Taron said...

John - Thanks and welcome to my blog.

Spo- Very true. Arizona is actually lush compared with the desert on the coast of Peru. While visiting that spot, I was intrigued to find a tiny plant in full bloom. I could have covered the entire thing with a dime.

Troy- Thanks. That hopper is a very common species in Arizona. I've encountered it in a diverse array of habitats.

Rodger- Thanks, though I doubt you would have smacked the skimmer. It's WAY bigger than a mosquito.

At 17:50, Blogger Kathiesbirds said...

Doug, I think that photo of the Aridlands Tiger Beetle is outstanding! Sorry about the fire on Kitt peak. It happened right before you arrived I think. I have yet to go to Kitt Peak myself. It was brutily hot while you were here but I am glad you enjoyed yourself anyways.

I know how you feel about missing out on photographing your friends. When I went to New River I was so focused on birds I feel like I forgot to photograph all the new bloggers I met! I feel like I left out a big part of the story.


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