|Desert Horned Lizard|
I like to think I’ve learned how to move around animals in non-threatening ways in order to get close. It probably has more to do with the nature of the animal. Does it naturally hold still, blend in and hope it isn’t seen or does it flee as fast and far as possible. Some hold their ground and defend themselves or bluff with an intimidating display. This horned lizard just didn’t seem to care that I laid down in the sand a few feet away and pointed my camera it's way. Maybe it had seen photographers before. It posed nicely in the light for me.
I often tell people I would like to study ants in the field. I’m not sure if I could really do that but I would really like to learn more about them and other social insects. They do some amazing things (and I’m not talking about carrying things that weigh more than they do).
When you’re near the bottom of the food chain it’s good to be hard to see.
Here’s our wasp friend again. Looks like she’s a parasitic wasp.
Just a few more paralyzing stings to get this caterpillar to hold still.
It's hard work to carry the caterpillar to the nest.
In one large depression in the dunes I heard bees. It took me a few minutes but found a bunch of digger bees. About a month ago I watch an episode of “Life in the Undergrowth” that showed how digger bees are victims of parasitic Blister Beetles. Here is a link to that part of the episode.Life in the Undergrowth - Blister Beetles & Digger Bees
It’s worth watching. It’s a pretty remarkable sequence of events.
I believe the digger bees are responsible for these tracks in my previous post. Were they searching for an existing tunnel that was covered up with the sand or looking for a good place to start a new one? Or something else?
Here’s a video I took of the digger bees. Turn up the sound to hear them buzzing around.
When I was growing up in Southern California I used to plant tomatoes every year so I could attract a similar type of caterpillar. Don’t ever remember eating any homegrown tomatoes. I think the worms completely consumed the plants.
Coachwhip (Red Racer)
I didn’t get a good picture of this snake. It’s the type of animal that tries to flee (it's called a racer for a reason). It didn’t hold still much and I didn’t pursue it too far. Didn’t want to stress it in the heat of the day. It might need the energy to flee from a real predator or catch a meal.
Another Ichneumonidae (a large family of wasps most of which are parasitoids).
“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.” Charles Darwin -- From a letter to Asa Gray, 22 May 1860
This is where I think I know how to move around animals to get close to them. These Chuckwallas kept their eyes on me but let me get pretty close. It took some patience on my part too.