Saturday, June 5, 2010
Granit Creek, Yavapai County
For many years on Memorial Day Weekend, my watercolors have been part of the annual Western Fine Art Show of the Phippen Museum in Prescott. The show closes daily at five pm and I use the evening hours to explore. This year the nights are still too cold to find anything but roaches at the lights in town and it hasn't rained for a while, so riparian areas are the best places to find wildlife.
On Saturday evening, I walk from the Watson Woods Riparian Preserve along Granite Creek to the east shore of Watson Lake. I carry a flashlight, important to avoid snakes and helpful to check for bugs.
Most day-active insects have retired for the night in closing flowers and in leaf axels.
Scores of Ladybugs for example, Wasps (Horntail Tremex columba above left), Grasshoppers (Green Bird Grasshopper, Schistocerca shoshone above right), Dragonflies (Meadowhawk below right), and the first Cicadas (Platypedia sp.) of the season.
I'm not sure whether the big Carpenter Ant is licking sweet juice from the blooming oak or is preparing to sleep.
The little Soft-winged Flower Beetle Collops sp. seems to have found the softest bed of all in a tuft of willow cotton caught in a weed.
The beautiful Blacktailed Rattlesnake, Crotalus molossus is turning in for the night as the temperature will go down into the forties. As the summer temperatures get hotter, he will shift his activity phase to the cooler nights. Bullfrogs drone from the lake shore after sunset and several Woodhouse's Toads, Bufo woodhousii are crossing the road.
Night active weevils, Dorytomus inaequalis remind of spiders with their long legs and jerky motions as they appear on the bark of Cottonwood trees.
Some Hyaline Grass Bugs, Liorhyssus hyalinus, land on the flowers of Evening Primrose that seem to glow in the dark.
Over all there is much less activity than last year at this time when it was warmer and we also had to cope with an unseasonal down-poor during the show.
Tree Swallows are stirring sleepily on their perches. Maybe they ate all the bugs.