|Some Arizona Oaks after Vol. 27, J. of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science. Click on image to see more clearly|
Understanding and often even identification of many insects in particular depends on knowledge of their host plants.
For the last couple of months I have been on a quest to collect and photograph local caterpillars. By June, most herbaceous food plants in the lower desert are drying up, but the oaks of high elevations are still a good place to look. There are so many species here! Arizona Flora by Thomas H. Keraney (University of California Press) gives a key to 12 Arizona species.
Yesterday botanist Bob Schmalzel took Charlie O'Brien and me on a tour of Mt Lemmon to teach us how to recognize and find 7 of the species along Catalina Highway. It was a beautiful day: Driving up the mountain, we enjoyed gorgeous views, steadily falling temperatures, deep forest greens (I miss those!), soft gopher churned soil under our feet, the sweet song of solitary thrushes, the aromatic smell (and loads of pollen) of pine and fir trees. I wanted to stay up there!
|Mexican Blue Oak, Quercus oblongifolia|
|Q. oblongifolia with fresh leaves in April|
|Emory Oak, Quercus emoryi with young acorns in June|
|Arizona Oak, Quercus arizonica/grisea|
|Net-leaf Oak, Quercus rugosa/reticulata|
|Silverleaf Oak, Quercus hypoleucoides|
|Lophocampa mixta and a tentatively identified Punkie, Meganola sp. on Silverleaf Oak|
|Gambel's Oak, Quercus gambelii|
|Poison Oak/Ivy, Rhus radicans|
|Abert's Squirrel, Sciurus aberti|