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Reproducing Spring

June 02, 2015  •  3 Comments

Spring has been especially long this year for it began early in March when my husband and I fled canyons of snow for the canyons and deserts of the Southwest.  Our month-long journey began in Tucson where flowers had already begun to bloom.  And although it wasn't officially Spring, the desert was coming alive -- at the feet of giant cactus, flowers carpeted the ground.  It hardly resembled the Sonoran desert I last saw one hot July more than twenty years ago. 

Traveling east through the Southwest from Arizona to the Texas Hill Country, we witnessed the arrival of this most magnificent Spring. We marveled at the beauty, diversity and profusion of wild flowers.  We admired the branches of distant trees some deep-red with buds others electric-green with fresh new leaves.  We were captivated by the intense busyness of an astonishing variety of insects and by brilliantly colored lizards racing about.  All this life right before our eyes took place amidst spectacular scenery.  Depending on where we were, mountains, deserts, cliffs, rocks, rivers, rolling hills, provided a vast colorful setting beneath an ever-present and even grander sky. 

We all know what this Spring emergence is about.  It's about reproduction, survival in its most glorious aspect.  Flora and fauna alike use all kinds of strategies to get themselves reproduced.  They change colors, they change shapes, they emit scents and sounds -- they do whatever they can to attract a mate (or pollinator) so their species will continue to thrive.

On a number of hikes in New Mexico, we came across small swarms of mating bugs.  Frantic mate-grabbing (and dragging!) took place at our feet:

Boxelder Bugs


Bordered Plant Bug

While many of us look and listen for birds as a sure sign of Spring, others keep an eye out for certain species of butterflies.  The Mourning Cloak, which is widespread throughout the United States, overwinters as an adult so it is often the first butterfly you will see in Spring. I saw them in New Mexico, Texas, and again here at home.  Always eager to meet a new species, I was happy to find numerous Spring butterflies in the Southwest.  Here are three of them:

Common Streaky Skipper - Texas

Common or White Checkered Skipper - New Mexico

Zela Metalmark - Arizona

In the Chihuahuan desert of Texas' Big Bend country we saw male Greater Earless Lizards, so seductive in breeding technicolor, each one earnestly running about searching for a mate:

And finally I come to my favorite copulating subject in all the insect world -- that of the mating "odes".  (See Oct 2014  Along the Pedernales River in Texas I saw large numbers of mating damselflies.  Totally nonplussed by my presence, I observed one couple for a very, very long time.  They even allowed me to record.  After I finished filming I quietly walked away and left this pair of Kiowa Dancers peacefully engaged in their active coupling:

Further down the river I saw many pairs of petite and exquisitely beautiful Powdered Dancers:

We arrived back in the northeast in early April. The canyons of snow were gone and early Spring flowers were emerging. Overwhelmed by travel and a busy work schedule once I returned home, I have neglected to post anything since February.  I will have to make-up for my negligence and overwhelm you shortly with more posts about our remarkable Southwest journey.  Flowers, cacti, more insects and maybe even some scenery will follow.

Mourning Cloak, Massachusetts





Lol! I love the earless lizard looking for a mate!
Sally Goldberg(non-registered)
Thanks for sharing your spring adventures. I have to admit I felt a little guilty watching the insects making love but I guess if they wanted more privacy they would have found a more secluded space.
Deborah A Goss(non-registered)
I love that the damselflies make that heart shape - it makes it more romantic!
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