Arizona Bugs

In my photo sorting I’m now up to early November of last year, when Julia and I spent a day at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument at the southern edge of Arizona.  Although we found some interesting leafminers there, what I want to share in this post are a few miscellaneous insects that were incidental to the purpose of our trip.

When we first stepped out of the car, we were greeted by a bustling group of leafcutter ants (Acromyrmex versicolor) carrying leaf pieces back to their nest.  Although the most famous leafcutter ants live in the tropics, species with similar habits can be found in the US from southern California to Louisiana.

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The flashiest bug we encountered there was definitely this predatory stink bug, Tylospilus acutissimus.  According to BugGuide, this species is found as far north as Colorado and Kansas and as far south as Colombia.

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This odd-looking one is Stobaera pallida, a delphacid planthopper.  Although the photo I submitted is the only representative of this species on BugGuide, the map on Discover Life shows it occurring all along the east coast of the US.

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For a more truly Southwest-specific species, here’s a grasshopper that was very well camouflaged when at rest…

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…but displayed striking blue hind wings when in flight.

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This is Leprus wheeleri, known as Wheeler’s blue-winged grasshopper.  It turned out to be hiding the same bright blue coloring on its legs.

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Our longest walk at Organ Pipe ended in a tiny spring that was full of these little toadlets.  I presume they are young Sonoran Desert toads (Bufo alvarius), which are found only in southern Arizona and adjacent portions of California, New Mexico, and Mexico.  [Edit: in a comment below, Margarethe Brummermann suggests that these are instead red-spotted toads, B. punctatus, the other common species in southern Arizona.]

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Finally, here are a few shots showing the landscape in which these animals were found. The organ pipe cacti (Stenocereus thurberi) appear in the first three, most prominently in the third.

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Sunrise and saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea).

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About Charley Eiseman

I am a freelance naturalist, endlessly fascinated by the interconnections of all the living and nonliving things around me. I am the lead author of Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates (Stackpole Books, 2010), and continue to collect photographs and information on this subject. These days I am especially drawn to galls, leaf mines, and other plant-insect interactions.
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2 Responses to Arizona Bugs

  1. Great photos as usual! The toadlets look suspiciously like our other very common toad, the Red-spotted Toad

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