Friday, May 4, 2012

Assassin Bug

While looking for the milkweed bugs in some fringed twinevine, I happened across an assassin bug apparently enjoying a little lunch.

Here's a tigher crop, showing the little aphid or larva it is eating. 

I thought it would be pretty simple to find an assassin bug on but I really had a heck of a time.  Fortunately, there are many bug experts who know how to figure that out.  It is a Zelus renardii. 

Fringed Twinevine

I suppose it is also known as Climbing Milkweed.  The pitcure below shows the twining.

The flowers can be white or tinged with pink or purple. 

The seed definitely looks like milkweed. 

And they may taste like milkweed, too as the milkweed bugs seem to like it. 
One is hiding behind the plant.  You can see the twinevine twisting through another plant, the Desert Broom (aka Turpentine Bush)

Side view.

 And the close up.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Saguaro Bloom!

They don't bloom like this very often, so I had to stop and take pictures of this one.

I won't bore you with repeated pictures of this same bloom, although I took several.
I will post some crops I made when I noticed something that has me puzzled.
Notice the large honey bee above the flower and the much tinier bee off to the right. 

Now either the smaller bee is being carried or this is an optical illusion due to the juxtaposition of the two flying close together.
According to the experts at this is likely some kind of wasp which looks a lot like a honey bee, and that it is carrying of its prey.  How about that! Cool stuff and a lucky shot (although it could have been better focused).

Western Diamondback

I would love to say I found this guy beside a sidewalk at the start of a hike, but truth be told, someone hollared out "Rattlesnake!" and I went to check it out.
It crossed the sidewalk and started up the hill.
 Then it decided I was a nuisance, so it sort of coiled up.  I didn't get close enough to set off its rattle, though.
This one was about a 3 footer, maybe a bit longer.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cloudy Weather

I love clouds.  There are time in Arizona when the sky seems to be cloudless for days (weeks) on end.  Maybe I wouldn't love them so much if I lived in Seattle or somewhere more cloudy.

Yesterday the clouds were moving quickly. I took this shot in the morning around 8:30 a.m.

 And this one not more than an hour later.
We got some good rain a short time after that.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cactus Bugs

Both of these insects are types of leaf-footed bugs I spotted the other day on a cow's tongue prickly pear.

This one is called a Chelinidea vittiger.  I like how the legs perfectly match the the spines and 'leaves.'
On another pad, I saw two of them (one facing away).
Here is one syphoning a flower bud

 This one is some sort of Narnia species, I believe.  The head is a little out of focus, but the proboscis is extended into the flower bud. In finding out about these guys, I read that they typically go after developing seeds, so it was kind of cool to see this one going for the developing flower.  Maybe there is nectar in there.
And there were two of these guys, too. 
Here is that proboscis tucked under.
 To help identify it, I went back for a dorsal shot.
Species femorata? I think so.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Saguaro Time

Saguaro cacti usually bloom mid- to late-May, but with the early heat (105 F two days ago) flowers are already opening.
 These pictures were taken less than a week apart.
And the next day:
Flowers open in the evening, and are gone with the heat of the following day.  Bees are good pollinators, but bats are the main pollinators.  Before I got to take this shot, a hummingbird was buzzing one of the flowers.

As long as the topic is saguaros, I'll show one that is dying:
Although there is green which indicates chlorophyl and production of food and therefore life, this saguaro is very near death.
 The lower portion is oozing out black rot. The saguaro will likely die this summer.

Saguaros can be extremely tough, too. This one has endured being chopped, shot and who knows what else.
 Same saguaro as above, shown here producing lots of flowers.
Here's the whole cactus: