Critters, Creepies and Crawlies

Written by on October 28, 2017 in Haunted Southwest - Comments Off on Critters, Creepies and Crawlies

When the moon is full, all sorts of creepy, crawly critters come out to play in the Four Corner states. Especially during the warmer months, many insects and spider are nocturnal, not to mention many of the mammals and birds. For instance, in May in Arizona, the Lesser Long Nosed Bats time their migration from Mexico to coincide with the Saguaro’s blooming. They feed on the giant Saguaro’s flower to gain enough sugary nectar to continue on their journey.

In July, once the first Monsoon rains fall, the Palo Verde Beetles dig their way out of their burrows. These enormous crawly critters look an awful lot like giant cockroaches, but are actually completely different species. They feed on the roots of the Palo Verde trees, and while they can cause damage to the roots if too many congregate, they don’t eat garbage or people food. If they end up in your house, it will be by accident, since they only come out to find a mate. Be kind and move them back outside.

On the deserts of the Southwest, the Tarantula, and a species-specific hunter, the Tarantula Hawk Wasp, come out at night. The breeze from the wasp’s wing alert the tarantula to go into defensive mode. That’s why you should never blow or breathe on a tarantula – they will think it is a wasp and bite you. Who knew?

The Western Banded Gecko and many other lizards (as well as most snakes), shelter during the day. The heat is too intense for them to hunt. Once the sun goes down, they warm themselves on the residual heat trapped in the rocks before carrying on with their business.

Let’s not forget the scorpions of all species that come out during the nighttime hours. Many are small and camouflage very well, so a great way to see them at night is to use a black light. The blue-green glow of their bodies under black light comes from a substance found in the hyaline layer, a very thin but super tough coating in a part of the scorpion’s exoskeleton called the cuticle.

In point of fact, there are some 1,500 species of bugs, insects and spiders in the Four Corners states, and dozens of species of bats that roam the night. Most hunt during the hours between dusk and dawn. If you want to see them, take a flashlight and a black light and see what you can find!

Special Note: The photographs for this article were provided by photographer Bebe Marks. Bebe loves nature and exploring and her photographs are inspired by years of watching her mother, artist Henny Marks, paint in her studio. Bebe’s photographs capture to the soul of the southwest, and are for sale. You can take a look at her work on her website or you can call or email her at moc.liamgnull@yrellagotohpebeb or 505-220-9238.

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