Lower Sabino Canyon, so safe and easy to walk but usually too busy with visitors, changes character at night. A little more wilderness, a lot more mystery. Very few people. The air seems to vibrate with cricket and katydid sounds and some that are tantalizingly close and distinct like the solo of a percussion instrument in a jazz band, but unrecognizable - at least to my companion, reptile photographer Rene Clark, and me.
|Migrating (?) Canyon Wrens were tucked under the eaves of all bath room buildings|
|Crevice Spiders, Giant Crab Spiders, Flatties and Black Widows in abundance|
|A camel cricket crossing the road|
On shear rock walls we looked for Amplygids (Tailless Whip Scorpions) but found only a very nice tarantula.
Ghostly pale beauties, Datura flowers lured me into the riparian underbrush. But it was the lowly Ragweed that bore interesting insects: the fecal-shield protected larva and the Halloween-masked adult form of the big tortoise beetle Physonota arizonae
At night, the nose can become become more important than the eyes. I never realized the fresh, fruity smell of blooming Brickell Bush and until now, and I had only smelled Desert Lavender after I crushed the leaves. Yellow asteraceae along the water exuded a potent tagetes smell that instantly conjured up my mother's garden's marigold borders. Most of the active responders were nectaring moths.
The Desert Broom also had a faint, pleasant smell that I noticed for the first time. Surprisingly, this time it did not make me sneeze. A rather mixed community here, even a canyon frog that remenbered its phylogenetic roots among the tree frogs
Other insects relied on the warning the olfactory sense can provide: disturbed Pinacate Beetles interrupted their wandering and to stick their hind end into the air and when that wasn't enough to deter my probing finger I got doused with a staining, stinking gush of hydroquinons.
After renewing that experience I did not even try to interrupt the hurried pass of a Chlaenius ground beetle because I like their stench even less. And there was always the resident skunk rustling in the brush near by ...
|Sphinx chersis, the Great Ash Sphinx|
|Just then my camera died|
The rest of the way was uneventful but good exercise. To tired to ponder why the mantis crossed the road. Home by midnight. A night well-spent.