Guest Post: A Last Opportunity to Travel to a First Opportunity—to See the 2020 Desert Spring Under Baby-blue Sky Blog by Barbara Swanson. All photos Barbara Swanson. Click on any photo in the blog for a full-size image and caption. … Continue reading →
Click on any image below to enter a manual slideshow of dandelion and poppy blooms in the Anza-Borrego Desert March 23, 2019.Continue reading →
The white-lined sphinx moth, also known as a hawk or hummingbird moth, can be found in Anza Borrego in the spring and after summer monsoon rains. It is a fairly common moth with a range from Central America to Canada. Most people visiting the desert see the caterpillar form, which voraciously eats some of the desert annual flowers during the daytime. It most prefers to eat the dune evening primrose and brown-eyed primrose plants, which are plentiful annuals after a rainy winter. The caterpillars grow quickly and can reach 5 inches in length. Their markings vary, but most of the ones in Anza Borrego are a mix of green and black; they range from almost all black to a mix of black and green stripes to the more rare mostly green form. The larger caterpillars can move quickly and will cross roads when looking for food. Once they are mature, the caterpillar digs a shallow hole in the sand by moving its upper body back and forth. It then pupates underground, with the sand providing protection while it waits for the right conditions to wriggle up from the ground and emerge as a moth. The adult moths mostly fly from dusk to dawn and look like a grey blur with a plump body and fast wings that hovers by a flower to feed before flying off to the next plant. From a distance they look like a tiny hummingbird. Both the moths and the caterpillars can carry pollen between flowers, helping to pollinate the plants and start the next generation.
During prolific years, there can be hundreds of thousands of caterpillars in the area northwest of Borrego Springs, such as off of DiGiorgio Canyon Road and Henderson Canyon Road. They will quickly eat the primrose plants before moving to the next area. As each female moth can lay hundreds of eggs, it doesn’t take very many moths to produce this many caterpillars. The migrating Swainson’s Hawks and reptiles will eat the caterpillars, but during prolific years this probably does not greatly reduce the caterpillar population.
Click on any photo for full-size image, then back button to return. Photos and captions by Barbara Swanson.
oachwhip Canyon is possibly named for the fastest snake around these parts, the coachwhip. A coachwhip, when sensing danger, wastes no time fleeing into the protection of the brush or the rocky walls of a Borrego canyon. Like the coachwhip snake, … Continue reading →
bout a half mile east of Tamarisk Grove Campground, looking south from State Highway 78 is the western edge of the Mescal Bajada. a three mile wide desert delta that, in the best of summer storms, carries a torrent of … Continue reading →
y midnight this time of year, the Milky Way has risen to the ceiling of the sky. The desert has cooled to short-sleeve temperatures without the uncomfortable humidity that accompanies the thunderstorm months of July and August. We traversed about 100 miles of … Continue reading →
esert banded geckos are unusual as geckos go, whose large, bulbous eyes generally muster only unblinking stares. But the nocturnal Coleonyx variegatus variegatus, with their movable eyelids (and charming little squeaks) make them perfectly qualified to audition for certain late-night insurance commercials. Talent scouts … Continue reading →
isnaga is an Americanism for the Spanish Biznaga, which refers to tall barrel cactus. Friendly to hikers for some 1.5 miles of trek, starting from the parking area, it is one of several bajadas (drainage basins) that carry off the rainfall gathered … Continue reading →
n the photo above, the visitor center sign is not so hard to see at the left of the entrance road. To the right of the middle of the photo, just below the peaks of rugged Indian Head and near the trees, can you make … Continue reading →
ave you ever been to Anza Borrego State Park and seen a cute chipmunk-like animal running in the sand, or seen 3” holes in the ground and wondered what made them? Most likely it is the White-tailed Antelope Squirrel, one … Continue reading →