Gossamer Tapestry

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

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Begin Year V

I can't believe that it's the anniversary of this blog again (well, it will be in about an hour), and that I've been at it for 4 years. To celebrate, I'm posting pictures of two beautiful beetles that I photographed in Arizona a couple of weeks ago.

Chrysina gloriosa

Chrysina beyeri
You gotta love a beetle with purple legs

Both of these beetles were attracted to the lights around my cabin in Madera Canyon/ They were still on the tree when I got up the next morning.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

What’s more difficult to see…

than a Trimerotropis latifasciata (broad-banded grasshopper) adult on lichen-encrusted clay exposures?

This question was recently posed by Ted at his blog Beetles in the Bush. Ever up for a challenge, I'd argue that a Leuronotina ritensis (Lichen Grasshopper) adult on a lichen-encrusted rock is a pretty good contender.

This species is narrowly endemic to the sky island mountains of southeast Arizona and adjacent Mexico. I photographed this individual in the Atascosas Mountains west of Nogales during my trip last week.

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Hiking to Josephine Saddle with Andy

In my previous post, I mentioned having breakfast with Adam and Andy on my first morning in Tucson. I met them a year ago. Andy had found my blog through a comment that I had left on another Tucson blog- probably either Homer's or Cobban's. Adam and Andy do prairie restoration on the 400 acre farm in southwest Wisconsin that Andy's parents own. Leon and I have enjoyed getting to know them over the past year. Over breakfast, we discussed my plans for the coming week, and Andy expressed interest in joining me on one of my bug hunts. On Monday we drove down to Madera Canyon to hike up to Josephine saddle.


The day started cloudy, and the threat of rain was forecast. We were lucky, rain never materialized and the sun eventually came out. Because it was cloudy and we were hiking up a north-facing slope we did not see any insects at first. It's hard to get too disappointed about this- the scenery and botany are both amazing. Among the many interesting plants that we saw was a beautiful milkweed with maroon flowers.

View from the Trail

We ran into John, someone we had just met the day before while swimming with Homer. He had mentioned plans for a similar hike, but I hadn't expected to encounter his hiking party. Shortly after we ran into them, we began encountering more insects, including a bunch of butterflies.

Gold-costa Skipper (Cogia caicus)

Nabokov's Satyr (Cyllopsis pyracmon)

Marine Blue (Leptotes marina)

The saddle is an interesting destination, but still enough in the woods that there are not spectacular views there. We stopped for a snack of almonds and a few photos.

In Josephine Saddle with Andy

The trip back down was on a south-facing slope, which meant different plants and drier conditions. We saw lots of fat lizards along the trail. Much more interesting was the coral snake that we got a quick glimpse of.

On the Trail

We called this lizard Fatboy

Madera Canyon is famous for its three species of large, bright green scarab beetles. The are attracted to lights and very seldom seen during the day. Andy managed to find one, and I was delighted that he was able to experience that aspect of Madera Canyon. He posed with one on his hand to show how big they are.

Chrysina beyeri

Andy Poses with the Chrysina

As the hike wound down, my only disappointment was that we had not seen an Arizona Hairstreak, a species I wanted to photograph. We were nearly back to the parking lot before I saw one.

Arizona Hairstreak (Erora quaderna)

We wrapped up the hike and headed back up to Tucson to connect up with Adam for a fabulous dinner at a Guatemalan restaurant. It was a day of great scenery and insects and even better companionship.

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