Wednesday, March 9, 2011

At long last, the desert, and bugs

It's been a tough month. My beloved doggie, Boomer, died a couple of weeks ago. But now that his long hospice is finally over, Jerry and I took a long overdue trip to the desert. It was very windy, and the spring flowers haven't arrived yet, but it was good just to get away. We stayed at a private residence in Joshua Tree and the owner was nice enough to let me hang up my white sheet and black light to see what bugs would come to it. Luckily, our first evening was not too windy, and a number of moths came to the sheet.
wings closed

wings open

moth face



This one was especially pretty:
pretty moth

I chased this one from the wall, down to the ground, trying to get a picture, by flashlight, of the lovely pink underwings.
pretty underwings
I have identified this moth as genus Drasteria.

Also 2 different kinds of ichneumon wasps:
ichneumon wasp

ichneumon wasp

Along the bottom of the stucco wall, I found this little long horned grasshopper.
long horn grasshopper

There were several small arachnids.

crabby spider


tiny skinny spider

The next morning, we braved the winds and set out for some sightseeing. It's not easy to take pictures of small insects in 40mph+ wind gusts. So the picture quality is not as good as I would prefer, but that's OK. I still had fun.

This beetle was foraging in the driveway.

feeding the local wildlife
I gave him something he wasn't expecting: a piece of apple.

feeding the local wildlife
I think he liked it! He ate it, or perhaps mostly sucked the juice out of it, for about 10 minutes.

It was only a couple of years ago that I saw Western tent caterpillars for the first time. This time, they were very small instars, but many clutches of them, mostly on plants that appeared to be virtually leafless.
tent caterpillar habitat

Excuse the fat finger

tiny tenters

western tent caterpillars

I kinda went nuts trying to get pictures of the tiny tent caterpillars, just because there were so many of them. It was hard, because they were so tiny, and the wind was blowing so hard. But as we were leaving the park through the south end, we passed some plants at lower elevations that had more leaves, and older instar caterpillars. You can see my tent caterpillar pictures from my last visit to Joshua Tree in 2009, (as well as a bunch more JT bugs) here.

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