Saturday, June 16, 2012

Yeah! A Thunderstorm in June

Some precursors of the summer monsoons are appearing early this year: Tohonochul Park is announcing that  their first Desert Queen of the Night is ready to bloom any day now, but while our queens have promising buds, they are still weeks from blooming.

Our toads have been out for a while now, though. First several small Red-spotted toads and since the beginning of the week also many of the big Sonoran Desert Toads.

 Big blue wasps (more than 4 cm long) with orange wings, the Tarantula Hawks, can be seen at any time, even around the winter solstice, but now they are very active around our one blooming eucalyptus tree (we had a leaky irrigation line there) and appear at my black light at night. Luckily they haven't found the pretty tarantula that lives by the cloth line...

Other Arachnids are using my black lights as a hunting beacon. Solifugids and Scorpions are always around.

Our Mediterranean Night Gecko also hangs out around the lights - he knows that he'll find plenty of drowsy moths.
Scolopsella reticulata
This Fulgorid is a regular summertime visitor at my black light. Certainly one of the more memorable shapes. The first one showed up two days ago.

So far we had the typical June heat with clear blue skies, temperatures just above 100 F and very low humidity. Nevertheless, last night the first Palo Verde Beetle, all shiny and new, was sitting on the warm garage wall. We were surprised: they usually wait for the monsoon rains as their signal to emerge.

This morning there were some harmless little clouds in a blue sky. At noon, they looked like small thunderheads over Mt Wassem.

By 3pm it was getting dark over Tucson, then a sandstorm rolled through with gusts up to 50 mi/h - followed lightning, thunder (two of our dogs demanded to come inside) a 20 F temperature drop within 20 min, and then pouring rain. In June! It's unheard of! The acrid smell of the wet sand mingles with the aroma of the creosote bushes. We love it!

Now, at 5:15 pm,  the sun is shining again and we are ready to join our neighbors for an outdoor barbeque.


  1. That was a cool experience! Shocking that we had rain this early in the season. But it was welcome....and the weather was fantastic. I'm loving all the critters out and about right now. Well maybe not the mosquitos:)

  2. All we got was dust on the Northwest side of Phoenix.

  3. How fantastic -- wish I could teleport over there ;)

  4. The end description of the way the sandstorm mixed with the rain smell, sounds like pure paradise.

    -Tony Salmeron
    Tree Pruning Charlotte

  5. We had a June rainstorm here too. With the record heat, any bennies from the early June moisture seem lost.
    Beautiful Toads! What about the horny toads?

    Is the gecko a pet? Or an invasive exotic? Seems like it would be a nicer critter than those fire ants and killer bees...

    Very nice bug pictures, your post makes me want to go out and shoot more bugs.