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Field Guide Series – Common Desert Insects

by | Dec 5, 2022

Gain fundamental, practical knowledge of your surroundings

“Small but Mighty” may be the best way to describe our new Easy Field Guides, reviewed by our own Yvonne Prater, Director of Operations. Each book is fully illustrated, and filled with a plethora of interesting facts that are easy to understand to help answer the thoughtful question, “What is that?”

If you missed them, you can read Yvonne’s first three Field Guide reviews here. This is the fourth guide in the series and is titled “Common Desert Insects”.

Some Like it Hot!

In North America, we have deserts in seven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. In these deserts daytime temperatures may exceed 110 degrees in the shade, and ground temperatures can go even higher. In some areas, precipitation is less than ten inches. In spite of these harsh conditions many insects thrive in the desert, spending at least part of their time underground where it is cooler. Some insects are nocturnal, and others have specialized behavior and structural modifications which enable them to move about on the hot ground in the middle of the day.

Nothing Goes to Waste!

VinegaroonThis Easy Field Guide includes many common insects and other invertebrates such as scorpions, vinegaroons, and spiders, plus a few that are not so common, but very interesting. For example, did you know that there is a beetle commonly referred to as the “dung beetle,” scientifically known as the “canthon imitator?” Yes, I said dung beetle.

These small, black insects are most often seen in the summer. Watching a male and female work together to roll a ball of fresh manure across the ground can be a quite comical. When they find the perfect site to bury the manure, the female then lays her egg within the ball. The larva uses the manure as a food source. Because of the method used to move the manure ball, these beetles have also been referred to as “tumble bugs”.

Fascinating Desert Creatures

Desert critters are intriguing, not only because of their unusual adaptations to high temperatures and little moisture, but also because many are unusual in appearance, and some have poisonous bites or stings. The phylum to which all the species in this book belong is Arthropoda. Their scientific names are included in their descriptions.

There is great pleasure to be had from gaining fundamental, practical knowledge of your surroundings. I hope you enjoy and anticipate each month the selected topics in this series. These guides are published by American Traveler Press and can be found in our museum’s gift shop, Riverbanks. We are open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.