Saturday, August 27, 2011


Unless they've been here, most folks think of Arizona covered by a Sahara-like dust desert with a few saguaros stuck in place, devoid of plants and animals.  That preconception is far from the truth - there is a huge diversity of plants and animals that have adapted to harsh desert conditions that can reach 120F in Summer's midday, and below freezing in winter, with rainfall under 10 inches a year.  Like most anywhere else, wildlife is  there, but you have to be patient and observant to catch it.

But mostly, you don't expect it to go parading across the living room floor!  While watching TV this morning, I noticed moving blur out of the corner of my eye.  A Desert Horned Lizard!  He moved a little slowly, likely to avoid detection by the cats, who most likely carried him in from the back yard, and also, since they are cold blooded, slowed down from the AC which had chilled him to 76F.  Outside in the summer heat, lizards seemingly move at the speed of light, hard to spot, let alone try to photograph, but this one moved slowly enough for me to catch him and transport him outside, where I was able to snap a photo or two before he warmed.  I've not seen any in years, and this one was undamaged from his likely encounter with the felines.  Melinda claims that Annie was psyched about something and was likely this un-Illinois creature she might have had a run-in with.  According to the wiki link above, they spend the Winters in hibernation below ground, coming out April through October to mate, lay eggs, and protect the nest until hatching.

The other local creature I documented a couple nights ago was a sizable moth, attracted to our CFL light at the front door. It was a while ago I had been watching a PBS Nova show on fractals, and the antennae on the moth looked very much like that on the show! It is a Hubbard's Silk Moth, and the feathery antennae indicate this one is a male.  The screen of the security door also acts as a scale - the holes are about 1mm diameter on about 3mm centers. 

Nice to see some local critters come to you - just show a little patience!

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