Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Butterfly CPR

Story and photos from Fred and Marty

It started with this photo:

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/30/2017

And these questions from Marty:

I think it’s a Palmer’s Metalmark (FRED - please confirm/correct). The very short story: I scooped it out of the pool, along with many others (why do butterflies drown themselves?). I put the skimmer down in the sun and when I returned in a few minutes, this one twitched (so I took its portrait). In another couple of minutes it few off!

 Fred responds:

It is certainly a Palmer’s Metalmark. There is a intermittent rocky stream at the top of Garden Canyon in Fort Huachuca that has a few persistent pools carved out of solid granite. We refer to these pools as the dead pools as we can find numerous dead butterflies and other insects. These pools are usually best (or worst from the insect’s perspective) in the fall, when we find many Chiricahua Whites, Arizona Sisters and numerous hairstreaks and blues. 

Photo by Fred Heath 4/23/2017

Sunday, a week ago [4/23/2017], we decided to check out the pools and sure enough they were filled with insects (see photo above) with numerous (maybe 25-30) Arizona Hairstreaks (the bright blue creature in the middle). We were able to scoop a few AZ Hairstreaks and a Juniper Hairstreak which were at the edge of the pool and watched them walk and then fly away as they dried out. We had seen no AZ Hairstreaks other than the ones in the pool that day.
We have many theories as to why they end up in these pools (and your swimming pool), but we think that some initially get trapped as they land on the surface thinking they can get a drink doing the typical puddling behavior. Once some of a particular species get stuck, we believe others of that species may be attracted to butterflies in the water.
We’ve noticed a similar thing when a mantis on the ground catches a butterfly (usually coming to wet soil) and eats the body allowing the wings to flutter to the ground. After a while, there are numerous consumed individuals, all of the same species and as more wings are piled up, the more the site begins to be attractive to others of that species. I can imagine the “poor” mantis, thinking, “Darn, I’m getting sick of eating only Bordered Patches today!”

Last year, Fred took the photo below at the same place.

Mixed Gender Synchronized Swimming Team

These are all Chiricahua Whites (orange female and white males). 

Thanks, Fred and Marty, for this in-depth story. Ha!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

More Queens

Photos and story from Fred Heath, 5/25/2017

 Fred writes: The Cereus in the main tram road median had two flowers this evening.

As you all  know, even though the Cereus is weird compared to many other cactus, the flower is typical with a single pistil (pale green) raised above a myriad of white stamens which are filled with yellow pollen (see close-up photo below).

Wonderful! Thanks, Fred!

Monday, May 29, 2017

She's got eggs

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/11/2017

From this site:

During breeding season females develop a pink throat patch and a peach or orange tint on the sides and flanks.

Now you know!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Monster Version

Matt and I encountered this Gila Monster on 5/14/2017. S/he moved faster than we've ever seen one move! Actually kicked up sand. Might have been entirely airborne for a fraction of a second.

Photo by Matt Ball 5/14/2017

Big Gila Monster from 2013

Diggin' the Heat from 2015

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Can you see me now?

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/18/2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

Scenes from Anderson Dam

All photos copyright Marty Horowitz.






Thursday, May 25, 2017

More on Minnows

More on Gila Topminnows in Sabino Creek from Tom, Fred, and Bill.

Tom Skinner found the email with date and number info; specifically, 510 Gila Topminnow were released the morning of August 19, 2015.

Fred Heath wrote:

[On 5/17/2017] I found topminnows below bridge #1, above bridge #5 and below bridge #8. In addition, there were some below Anderson Dam where the water becomes shallow as it goes between some trees. In the deep pools just below Anderson Dam there were only chubs, including a few big enough to swallow many topminnows in a single gulp.

Today (5/22/2017) I’m still seeing a few below the Bear Bridge (these won’t last for many more days), below the Dam Bridge and below the dam itself in the next pool downstream from the large pool below the bedrock morteros.

Bill Kaufman sent this photo from 5/12/2017

Click photo for larger view
And Fred notes: 

the picture from Bill Kaufman show[s] how the top minnows mouth faces upward [...] and helps explain why they are every bit as effective as the non-native mosquitofish in mosquito control (eating the floating larvae and pupae).

Thank you, Tom, Fred, and Bill for contributing to this fish story. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

There's a hair in my creek

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/11/2017

More info on this critter available at this post from 2012.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Queen is here!

Marty scoped out buds on some of our canyon Night-blooming Cereus (Peniocereus greggii) on 5/18/2017 and caught the flowers on 5/21. Amazing!
All photos by Marty Horowitz






Thanks, Marty, for being on the Queen scene!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Marty's Gila Topminnows

Photos and text from Marty Horowitz 5/11/2017

Marty writes:

Always a pleasure to cruise a bit with Fred! We got a 2nd observation of topminnows mixed with chubs at the Bear bridge.
Note the 2 light strips on dorsal surface of Topminnow females. Note black topminnow male.

Key Cn=Chub, TFn=Topminnow female, TMn=Topminnow male.

Anne says: Click photos for larger view!

Bonus link from Marty - blog on topminnow restoration

And my post from November 2015 on this topic

Sunday, May 21, 2017

There's a new-ish fish in town!

Fish story and photos from Fred Heath

Today (5/10/2017) while searching for dragonflies and garter snakes from the Bear Bridge. I noticed some fish which were more guppy-shaped than our regular Gila Chub. As I was trying to figure out if it was just my imagination, a much smaller black fish came into view chasing my guppy-shaped fish. Having recently read an Arizona Game and Fish brochure on Gila Topminnows and Desert Pupfish, I knew I had found some of the Gila Topminnows which had been recently introduced into Sabino Creek (I believe up near Tram Stop #8….I will check with Josh). Like the guppies, the female topminnows are live bearing and so the females get quite large around the middle.

Unfortunately, the photos taken with my point and shoot camera are not the best quality and hopefully someone like Marty or Bill can get some better photos.[Anne notes: Marty's are tomorrow's post.]  However, they are good enough to ID the fish. 

The first photo shows a male (in his black breeding coloration) trying to accost a female. Along with the many females and a handful of very busy males, there were several young fish that I believe were also topminnows (see to the right and slightly above the male). 

The second photo shows another male eyeing a bunch of females just below the Dam Bridge. Note that sadly the fish in these two spots are in tiny ponds which probably won’t last until the Monsoon rains. 

In both places there were also Gila Chub and third photo has a small chub in the bottom right. They are generally longer and sleeker than the topminnows and its tail is forked where the topminnows have fan-like tails.

Stay tuned for more on this fish story!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Your final answers

Family Feud resolved

Friday, May 19, 2017

Family Feud

Mallow vs. Nightshade 

Answer in tomorrow's post

Thursday, May 18, 2017

More Nightshades

Tomorrow's the quiz!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Now for some Nightshades

Re-running the Nightshades tutorial. And there's a quiz : -)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Open and shut

All Photos copyright Marty Horowitz, 5/10/2017

Pipevine Swallowtail on Mexican Palo Verde (Parkinsonia aculeata)

Fatal Metalmark on a plant : -) Probably a Seepwillow (Baccharis salicifolia) but I'm not sure from these photos.

Monday, May 15, 2017

New from Margarethe

Our favorite bug lady, Margarethe Brummermann, recently introduced her new poster: Butterflies of Arizona. As with the earlier releases, this poster comes with a numbered template and corresponding species list.

Margarethe writes:

After publishing my first 4 arthropod posters (see below), I have been asked for a butterfly poster more times than I can remember. But there is so much good stuff out on Butterflies ... I was a little intimidated. Now I think I have put together a collection that does justice to the unique diversity of Arizona and at the same time looks beautiful.
Many thanks to Ken Kertell, who allowed me to use a number of his excellent photos!
The size is 18 in by 24 in, it is printed on heavy, semigloss art paper with my giclee printer. That's really art print quality, not poster quality, and it will not fade. Cost: $25 plus shipping

If you are interested in any (or better, all) of these art quality posters for yourself or your favorite naturalist, please contact Margarethe via her comcast account (that's dot net) mbrummermann at  - you know the rest. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Arty from Marty

All photos copyright Marty Horowitz, 5/2/2017

Amazing that there's still some water in the creek!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mallows, too

Three more posts on the Mallow family.

Tomorrow, Arty from Marty!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mellow Mallows

Time to re-run another plant family tutorial. Hooray for the Mallow Family!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sweet Shots

Bill Kaufman took these great photos of male Western Tanagers at Sweetwater Wetlands on 5/5/2017. (Not Sabino Canyon, I realize, but close enough : -)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tails of Two Lizards

Photos copyright Gene Spesard, 4/26/2017

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Mooch Team

Round-tailed Ground Squirrels team up for treats.
All photos copyright Gene Spesard, 4/26/2017

Here they come! Go, Bobby, go!

Bobbie brings out the 'we're practically starving here' act. 

If Bobbie didn't melt your heart, Carrie cues the cuteness. 
Regardless humans, don't feed the other animals.

Round-tailed Re-run from 2015

Monday, May 8, 2017

Love this dove!

Photo (c) Marty Horowitz 5/2/2017
Beautiful White-winged Dove perched delicately on blooming Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens). Click photo for larger view.

Sunday, May 7, 2017


Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/26/2017

Marty caught this male Ladder-backed Woodpecker enjoying the blue skies of Sabino Canyon.

Saturday, May 6, 2017


Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/26

Bees pollinate Saguaro flowers. Click here for White-winged Dove pollination lesson from 2015.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Re-run fun: Celestial Events

Celestial events: Eclipse 5/20/2012   Super Moon 5/5/2012

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Heli-port Gila

Photo by Wayne Klement 4/21/2017

Wayne spotted this healthy looking Gila Monster at the heli-port overlooking Sabino Dam. Have you seen any Gilas this year?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A lizard's laugh

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/22/2017

This Greater Earless Lizard seems to be chuckling at Marty's camera. Or maybe at Marty himself. Click photo for larger view.

Monday, May 1, 2017

ICB Beetle

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/19/2017

More info on the Iron Cross Blister Beetle is available here. Bottom line: Do not eat.