Yellopig Is Free

Or, Recreating A Life From Scratch

Summer Critter Roundup 2015

Well, I have to clear out the critter clutter now, because with the real arrival of the monsoon rains, a whole new crop of them has emerged.

So this first picture has been the hold-up all along. I found this Arizona Walkingstick (Diapheromera arizonensis) sitting upright on the wall. But an upright picture doesn’t work well here, and it took almost forever for me to get around to rotating the picture.

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When I did rotate it, it seemed like the poor bug had lost one of its legs. Fear not! The missing leg is hidden behind the bug’s body from this angle.

The many flowers on the recovering mesquite tree provided nectar for a whole village-full of insects.

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Including this Tawny Emperor butterfly (Asterocampa clyton).

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But mostly for herds of baby Mesquite bugs. Officially, they’re “Giant mesquite bugs”, but at these early stages they’re fairly small. These are mostly 3rd and 4th instars. (Instar is a stage of bug nymphs’ development.) When the sun shines on them, they look like those translucent red dice. That makes them really noticeable, because you wouldn’t expect to see a clump of dice hanging from a tree. See how the little spots of direct sunlight make the bugs’ red bits really glow:

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My guess is that this next one is a 1st or 2nd instar. See how it doesn’t have the little disc at the end of its antennae yet.

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This last is a 5th instar, with proto-wings.

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Tired of bugs? For a change of pace, here is the rear four-fifths of my friendly neighborhood gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer).

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I found it sunning itself in the open while I was walking the back 40. While I ran back to the house for the camera, it tried (unsuccessfully) to hide under this prickly pear cactus. See the cute little face peering at me on the right:

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I usually try to remove the twigs and grasses that might be in the way of the picture, but in this case I resisted the urge to reach toward the snake’s face.

And now let’s have some more butterflies! This is a Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole).

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My wildflower database has failed me; I can’t identify that plant.

And this last one was found at the bottom of the tree moat after an early monsoon storm. It was drinking from puddles there — I’m so glad the moat is forming puddles now. Anyway, this is a Bordered Patch butterfly (Chlosyne lacinia crocale).

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