Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Insect photography in canine company
Today I hiked the De Anza Trail. Well, I followed in the footsteps of that Spanish explorer for at least a couple of miles. And I had my own army to organize. Because Randy was working on a paper, I took all 4 dogs, even though I still don't trust Mecki and Frodo to be friends or at least peaceful. So in the car, Mecki sits in the passenger seat and the others in back.
Then, to hike, they get organized in pairs- Mecki and Bilbo and Laika and Frodo share leashes. To add to the confusion, Bilbo was bitten by either neighbor dog or Javelina, licked the wound until its size quadrupled and was turned into an inverse cone-head with the help of an Elizabethan collar. That thing swings from side to side with every step, and since he's decided to just ignore its existence, he bangs it into legs, car doors and dog noses as if he enjoys it.
The sandy path along the Santa Cruz in Marana used to produce a multitude of natural and planted spring flowers, but in this deceptive el Nino year they are few and far in between. Even sparser are the insects that are usually attracted to the flowers. But I anyway brought my camera and the dogs are getting their training in photography-cooperation.
Some metallic Sweat Bees collect pollen from Desert Marigolds, joined by a Buffalo Treehoppers (Ceresa)
Some nice Anthophora Bees are visiting Parry's Penstemon but they prove very difficult to photograph.
The blooming Brittlebush has nothing to offer except a big hover fly Copestylum apiciferum which probably grew up in a decomposing cactus in the less cultivated parts of this river park.
A tiny beetle is perched on a petal of a surprisingly white desert Primrose. The beetle turns out to be Lytta auriculata, not even half as big as these beetles usually are. Most likely it grew up as a brood parasite in the nest of a bee that only stored a minimal amount of provisions. The plant seems to be The Dune Evening Primrose which is out of place here, but as I said, some flowers were obviously put here by well meaning city gardeners and are not quite native to the Sonoran Desert
My dogs quickly learn not only to sit quietly around the wildflower spots but they even begin to determinedly walk towards them. They know that a reward follows every successful photo session.