On Wednesday I wanted to work my way up through the grassland into Madera Canyon. There was an impressive thunderstorm hanging under Mt. Hopkins and I ended up staying a little further north in Florida Canyon instead. It anyway seemed a good idea to check out the Santa Rita Research Range (SRER) where we'll hold our BugGuide gathering in less than a couple of weeks.
|Left: Termite shedding its wings: middle: male following female: right: ant attack|
Along the dirt road towards SRER yellow grasses told of months of draught. But recently the area had received a fair amount of precipitation: The Desert Broom bushes (Baccharis sarothroides) were oozing: sugary phloem juice leaked from every scrape or cut to the bark. Scores of big insects were at work improving those sources of sweet rewards by chewing and licking.
I watched the big wasps: While the Tarantula Hawk was by for the biggest, the agile Cricket Hunter had the advantage of huge mandibles and much more intense aggression and won the best spot every time. It was still a little early for the bigger Longhorn Beetles, I saw only a single Stenaspis, but the Giant Agave Bugs were out in force. I think this is a promising begin of our rainy season and the BugGuide group has a lot to look forward to.
The SRER station was closed and abandoned, but I took a look around anyway. Here are some photos of the facilities: A building for meetings, bunk house and cottages, work sheds and the managers house are all nestled along a permanently trickling creek under lush trees. The Santa Rita Mountains raise on both sides and several paths allow access - climbing continuously but never really steeply.
|Hanging Thief, Robber Fly, Bee Assassin|
|Black lighting sheet with mostly Scarabs|
|Eacles oslari found its own camouflaged spot on one of the interpretative signs that were installed by the forest service|
|Lophocampa argentata (Silver-spotted Tiger Moth|