Posts Tagged ‘desert’
Hey, what’s that hanging from my ceiling?
With all the rains we have had it is not surprising to any of us that termites are still very active. This is a frequent little phenomenon that happens here with our desert termites. They find their way into our homes and follow the wood grain, hit the next 2×4 and then follow that grain and rather than return the longer way they attempt to go back down from where they are at the moment. Tricky little bugs, right?
So before you just clean it up and disregard it, check it out – is it dirt and do you see any little white 6 legged ant type critters. Surprise, it’;s probably termites – give us a call to make sure 480-831-9328
This photo is a cholla that somehow made its way into a taller tree, no idea how it did that. But it’s interesting to note that these things will jump (OK not really jump but attach to) almost anything.
The cholla (pronounced choy-a) is perhaps the most feared and hated cacti in the southwest desert. I have seen all kinds of trouble with this cactus. If you brush up against one, you will immediately wished you had paid attention. The spines will stick to anything and they will stick, stick and stick some more….
The plant has pads that separate easily from the main stem. The spines easily attach to your clothing, your skin and your shoes. Since the plant is covered with spines, it’s difficult to grab and dislodge the pad that has found a new home with you. Often re-sticking it’s way deeper and more often. I often wonder how animals might adapt, can you imagine getting this caught in a tail or fur? Got to hurt!
Why are they so difficult to remove? Unlike other varieties of cacti with solid spines, cholla’s actually have hollow spines. Because they are hollow they can easily attach to whatever they touch with their needle like sharpness. If there is moisture, such as with skin, the tips actually curve once they have made contact, locking their spines in place just underneath the skins top layer.
There are several types of Jumping Cholla cacti in the desert southwest, but all of them are called the “jumping” cacti in past days because they seemed to jump when a boot or shoe would walk on or get near them.
How could a plant so nasty be so beautiful? Good question and one more mystery of the desert. The plant (especially the Teddy Bear Cholla with its golden spines) is quite beautiful at sunrise and sunset. As the sun catches the tips of the spines, the plants radiate a cast of yellow, and look quite soft sometimes with an appearance of velvet. Add to this the pink flower it produces and the plant is delightful to look at … but not touch. Because some of the Jumping Cholla cacti can grow to heights of 8 feet tall, they look like strange, distorted trees, each with its own personality.
Believe it or not, the cactus wren builds nests on the Jumping Cholla. The nests are quite secure amongst all the spines and the bird knows how to avoid the spines of the Jumping Cholla.
This plant propagates and spreads throughout the desert by its own defense mechanisms: Its spines attach to anything that can carry it around, animals, people, the wind. When a Jumping Cholla finds a new home, with a little time, and contact with the soil, it begins to root and grow.
One of my favorite places in Arizona is the Desert Sonoran Museum there are almost 2 miles of paths traversing 21 acres of beautiful desert, including many cacti.
The artistic termite!
Most people probably would think that termites are just destructive and be done with it. Not so, says Dr. Bug and Jerry Schappert from http://www.pestcemetery.com sent this picture that illustrates this point. I wrote a blog some time ago called “Termite castles and their artwork” that shows that termites can be quite the decorators.
Not all things are bad, so when your hiking in the desert look around and take in nature. Everything has its place, even the termites…
Rodenticides and the EPA
Yesterdays answer is the Wolf Spider—
I ran across an interesting article that I thought was insightful and mainly right on the money. “Rat Poison, Peet’s Coffee and the California Desert.”
Arizona has some unique bugs, have you seen any?
Any guesses on this one? Comment below!
Most places have bugs/insect/wildlife that are native to their environment and Arizona is no different since we are a desert. A lot of people think we are extremely hot all the time and that is far from the truth. Here is the Wikipedia definition of the Sonoran Desert.
The Sonoran Desert includes 60 mammal species, 350 bird species, 20 amphibian species, over 100 reptile species, 30 native fish species, over 1000 native bee species, and more than 2000 native plant species. The Sonoran Desert area southwest of Tucson and near the Mexican border is vital habitat for the only population of Jaguars living within the United States.
Here is a field guide to the “Nature Study in the Sonoran Desert”.