Archive for Arizona

Sphinx Moth and Red Bird of Paradise

Sphinx Moth

Last evening at dusk, I was in the courtyard photographing the sunset colors. I turned around toward the Red Bird of Paradise shrubs and saw several hummingbird moths browsing the flowers. I got the close-up above of one of the moths.

Hummingbird moths are actually an entire family of moths called Sphinx Moths. Family Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths, Hawkmoths) contains a very large number of related sub-families and species.

From the Butterflies and Moths of North America website:

The Sphingidae belong to the Superfamily Sphingoidea. Members of this family are commonly called “hummingbird,” “sphinx,” or “hawk” moths, and some can be mistaken for hummingbirds. Most are medium to large moths, with heavy bodies; wingspread reaches 5 inches or more in some species. The Sphingidae are strong and fast fliers, with a rapid wingbeat. Most species in the group are active at dusk, and most feed much like hummingbirds, hovering in front of a flower and sipping nectar through the extended proboscis. The proboscis rolls up when not in use. Some species lack scales on large portions of their wings, resulting in transparent or clear wings. In most species, the larval stage is called a “hornworm” because the caterpillar’s posterior end has a harmless hook or hornlike appendage protruding upward. Unfortunately, the caterpillar of some species can be very destructive to agricultural crops and ornamental plantings

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Palo Verde Tree Rescue

Small Palo Verde Startup In its new spot

During an afternoon walk, I noticed a small palo verde tree growing on the shoulder of the road out front. I made a mental note to remove the tree from that location due to proximity to road traffic. In a couple of years it would likely have grown out into the roadway.

In discussions with Damsel, we decided to relocate the tiny tree to our rock and cactus garden on the west side away from the RV drive. If the little tree survives the transplant, we will be able to prune it into a nice addition to the garden. It can be made to look like an attractive tree, like so many in Arizona xeriscapes managed by homeowners and landscapers.

I took my spade and carefully loosened the dirt around the little tree, trying to preserve most of the roots. I dug a hole in the west garden and lowered the tree into it. I brushed the soil from the hole over the roots and the lower part of the trunk. We doused it with a gallon of water, hoping that would ease the shock to the transplanted tree.

The two images above are the before and after. Click on either image to enlarge.

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Devil’s Tongue Cactus Flower

Devil’s Tongue

Our Devil’s Tongue cactus had its first open flower today. Flowers open during the Second Spring Arizona pseudo-season. I snapped this in the rock and cactus garden west of the house this morning. Several bees were busily competing for the nectar. One of them is visible in the photo.

Ferocactus latispinus is the binomial nomenclature for what is commonly called the Devil’s Tongue cactus. Wikipedia offers the following information about this cactus:

Ferocactus latispinus is a species of barrel cactus native to Mexico. It grows as a single globular light green cactus reaching the dimensions of 30 cm (12 in) in height and 40 cm (16 in) across, with 21 acute ribs. Its spines range from reddish to white in color and are flattened and reach 4 or 5 cm long. Flowering is in late autumn or early winter. The funnel-shaped flowers are purplish or yellowish and reach 4 cm long, and are followed by oval-shaped scaled fruit which reach 2.5 cm (1 in) long.

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Hardy Queen of the Night Cactus

Queen of the Night CactusThe Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii) cactus that grows on the slope of the hill on the west boundary of our property has had some predatory setbacks, namely something eating the green part of the stems. Regardless, it has rebounded quite nicely by growing three new stems, two longer and one shorter, over the course of the summer months.

It’s probably too late in the season to expect any flowers from this cactus, but the stems appear to be healthy. Hopefully, the predator wont be back again and maybe this cactus will flower next summer.

I found some interesting things about this cactus and it’s use for medicinal purposes in the University of Arizona arboretum pages:

Ethnobotany: Peniocereus greggii has some medicinal value and has also been used in religious ceremonies and ornamentals. Some of its medicinal benefits come from its tuberous roots which have been used to help treat diabetes and other maladies. The roots have also been used by the Tohono O’ Odham, when they boiled and drank the roots to help with respiratory problems, headaches, and digestion. The flowers have also been used in aromatherapy and ornamentally, due to it strong fragrance that some say smells like vanilla.

In the image above, the longest of the three new stems is about eight inches long. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Cactus Flowers

Fishhook Cactus Flowers

Bishop’s Cap Flowers

During the spring and summer her in the desert, flowers opening on the various cacti keep us happy and my camera busy. I took these photos today of a little fishhook cactus with three flowers and my Bishop’s Cap with a bunch of open flowers. I didn’t bother to count them.

We continue to have our summer monsoons this week and the humidity really high. We can only stay outside for a limited time before retreating to the comfort of the cooler and drier air in our house.

Click on either image to enlarge.

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Caught on Google’s Aerial Image

walking-the-dogs-on-google-maps-2.jpg

I was casually looking at the Google™ satellite map of our neighborhood (actually an aerial photo mosaic, not taken from a satellite) when I noticed a couple of objects on our neighbor’s driveway. I zoomed in to have a closer look and the conclusion I came to was that the objects in question are us walking our dogs!

Our morning routine after breakfast: we feed and then walk the dogs. We generally walk them up the road to the west toward our neighbor’s house up the hill from us. In the image, the dark colored part of the road running to the left side is where we are. You can see our light colored cowboy hats, our shadows and the dogs and their shadows. Damsel is further up the road than I am by about 30 yards. The image below will clarify where we are in the top image.

walking-the-dogs-on-google-maps.jpg

I think it’s a funny coincidence that we happened to be out where we were when the aerial photo plane flew over. I estimate the time frame for the image is last summer. My clues are that the RV is not in the usual place as it was being serviced down in Avondale last year and the shadows are shorter on the north side indicating summertime.

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Cherry Red Flowers

Cherry Red Flowers

Not as impressive as the 21 open flowers from May, but still quite stunning. The three flowers on our “Cherry RedTrichocereus Grandiflorus cactus opened up this morning as expected and they became even more vividly colorful in the midday sun.

The cactus still shows a few more buds that we hope will be opening later this summer. Click on the image to enlarge.

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