Field Notes

A Microscopic View of a Palo Verde Root Borer Beetle

February 1, 2021

In this week’s Microscopic Monday post, we are going to continue to explore the amazing diversity of beetle species in our Sky Island region by focusing on the Palo Verde Root Borer Beetle—also known simply as the palo verde beetle (Derobrachus hovorei). Formerly classified as Derobrachus geminatus, our local (and quite common) Palo Verde Root Borer was…
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A Microscopic View of a Cathedral Vista Beetle

January 4, 2021

If we don’t include single-celled organisms, then beetles are the most numerous and diverse group of living things on this planet. They make up about 40% of all insects. One out of every four animals on this planet is a beetle. In fact, there are more known species of beetles then there are all known…
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Microscopic View of a Hedgehog Cactus Fruit

November 23, 2020

Hedgehog cacti of the Echinocereus genus are relatively small-stature cactus plants with multiple cylindrical stems. In eastern Arizona, Fendler hedgehog (Echinocereus fendleri) may go unnoticed for much of the year until its brilliant pink blooms open in April-May. The large round fruits are bright red and ripe, attractive to many wildlife species that help disperse the hedgehog cactus seeds after…
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Microscopic View of a Desert Cardinal Feather

November 9, 2020

  We have two lovely cardinal species that reside in the Sky Island region, the Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) and Pyrrhuloxia (Cadinalis sinuatus), also known as the desert cardinal. Pyrrhuloxia has a prominent crest on its head, distinctive yellow bill (in contrast to the darker reddish-orange bill of the Northern cardinal), and gray feathers tinged with light red. When in flight, the…
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Microscopic View of a Cholla Fruit

November 1, 2020

When you zoom in closer and closer to living things you encounter in the Sky Island region, it’s amazing what you find! I was recently drawn to look more closely at the Desert Christmas Cholla (Cylindopuntia leptocaulis) growing in my yard. Its scientific name means cylindrical slender stem, a fitting name for this short and branching cactus abundant…
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