|Dysschema howardi (Northern Giant Flag Moth - Hodges#8040)|
Fellow BugGuide Member Patrick Coin from Durham, NC, was staying in Tucson and took the opportunity to see more of the local fauna. Muriel Béchu, a young German Scientist at the U of A College of Optics came to see the structural prismatic colors of moths in real life. She stayed to the very end at around 11 pm and actually discovered the prize of the night, the beautiful Northern Giant Flag Moth (She posed with Glover's Silk Moth)
|Males of the tribe Dynastini|
|Amblycheila baroni (Montane Giant Tiger Beetle) and Leptinotarsa rubiginosa (Reddish Potato Beetle)|
After a couple of hours, our two sheets were so covered in moths, that it took a lot of enthusiasm to get close to them.
Kerrah Cutter was especially undeterred: decorated with moths all over she took a great series of photos to post on her facebook page. I'm sure we will meet again in the field to have some more interesting adventures with bugs and herps. My friends Collins Cochran, Doug Mullins and Carol Tepper saved the night by keeping my new generator running and helping with set-up and take-down. Hanging the sheets from an easy-up tent frame and using three lights driven by a generator is too involved an undertaking do manage by myself, especially in a hurry with lots of people around who expect to hear me say something interesting while waiting for the slowly arriving bugs just after sunset.
I hope everybody enjoyed the trip and saw something interesting and new. I haven't had time to do a species count, but Patrick, who is a founding member of BugGuide and has a lot of experience from other parts of the world, was very impressed with the diversity of insects.
We were speculating why Arizona is ranked so very highly among all US states, and bordering Sonora, Mexico is even one of the locations with the highest species diversity world wide. There are many reasons:
1.The geological history here has been quite dramatic, so we are living on a mosaic of many different soil types, and hence among a patchwork of vegetation types, providing hosts for many different insect species.
2.Our sky islands rise from the surrounding desert high enough to provide along their slopes everything from lowland sandy desert to pine forest and tundra like bare mountain tops at over 10,000 feet.
3.Our two rainy seasons and high temperatures give us growing conditions for different organisms all year round.
4. We are at the border between temperate zones and the tropics.
5. We are experiencing a phase of climate changes that cause the spread of Mexican species into Arizona and may lead to the extinction of some long-term residents. The species distribution along the elevation levels of the mountains is most likely going to shift with rising temperatures and prolonged droughts.
I have collected images of most species that we saw last Thursday in Peppersauce Canyon in a flickr file. I will add additional identifications over the next week.