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- February 27th, 2014
Manzanita shrubs in the mountains are blooming now. Insects and hummingbirds want the nectar: Robbery is not out of the question!
- February 17th, 2014
Intricate tunnels in the sandy terrain below is where these
mammals stay during the heat of the day: Desert Pocket Mouse
- Jan. 26th, 2014
Where there is deep sand along canyon bottoms, look for
serpentine trails revealing movement below! Giant Antlion
- Nov. 24th, 2013
Birds are mostly much easier to photograph than mammals.
Ladder-backed Woodpeckers often are obscured by dense thickets of branches: Ladder-backed Woodpecker
- Dec. 22nd, 2013
Remembering the blistering hot days of summer when I escaped to
cool mountaintops and verdant wildflowers: Pinewoods Spiderwort
- October 9th, 2013
Three kinds of deer are found in Arizona including the White-tail Deer
- July 10th, 2013
The better you tend your cactus garden the more likely you will
bring in this visitor: Cactus Longhorn Beetle
- July 6th, 2013
Would you love the Sonoran Desert even more if one of her
residents chose to kiss you? Kissing Bug
- June 27th, 2013
A native flowering shrub is much more than a pretty plant:
An Intricate Web of Life
- June 7th, 2013
Very hot sunshine is the norm for much of the year in the Sonoran
Desert. A spider takes shelter among leaves and silk: Orb Web Spider
- May 20th, 2013
Ferruginous Hawks leave the northern states for sunny Arizona in
the winter: Feathered
- April 12th, 2013
This plain brown bug belongs to the family of Leaf-footed Bugs,
but hasn't got leaves on its feet: Coreid Bug on Scrambling
- February 21th, 2013
A small spider with a mission (survival and reproduction in a
harsh environment) lives on a well-adapted desert shrub: Tangled Web Spider
- February 11th, 2013
Not only did the Blind Watch Maker build an eye, it also learned
to boil water and not get burned: Bombardier Beetle
- January 24th, 2013
Legumes, i.e., members of the bean family are important
components of every vegetation type in Arizona: Scurfy Pea
- December 30th, 2012
Honey bees are normally quite safe when foraging along side a
bumblebee ... but this bumblebee look alike isn't a bee at all: Bee Killer
- December 20th, 2012
This little blue is stretching to reach the last sip of nectar at
the bottom of the floral tube: Acmon Blue Butterfly &
- November 4th, 2012
Sunflowers are still blooming where there's water and upon them
the observant person will find a wide variety of insects and birds: Annual Sunflower's Menagerie
- October 27th, 2012
This flower's long, long tube is tied to it's
pollinator-partner's exceptionally long tongue: Sweet Four O'Clock
- October 3rd, 2012
What's your favorite flower color? Red? Blue? Pink? Yellow? Could
it, would it, possibly be Green?! Pale Desert-Thorn
- September 18th, 2012
The newest page describes a dainty fly taking nectar at a flower.
If I focused only on dipterans in the Sonoran Desert I could only scratch the surface of what
there is to know about them. Overwhelming
- September 7th, 2012
At the very top of a Saguaro Cactus there's a velvety coating of
soft plant hairs: Protection in a Harsh
- August 12th, 2012
The stately saguaro cactus seems to define the Sonoran Desert.
Similarly the Baobab defines the African Savanna: Baobab Tree
- July 17th, 2012
The wonder of Nature Study is that no matter how close or how
long or how deep you study, more details appear: Desert Honeysuckle Seed
- July 1st, 2012
One can imagine that nature is singing a song just for you as you
hike your favorite canyon. Canyon Wren
- June 16th, 2012
Mess with this insect or its livestock and you could end up with
a mist of acid in your face! Wood Ant
- June 4th, 2012
Poorly drained spots with high evaporation rates often lead to
saline or alkaline soils: Alkali
- May 25th, 2012
Quite a number of desert plants have highly reflective, silvery
leaves and stems to help deflect intense sunshine: Indigo
- April 14th, 2012
If you find lots of holes chewed out of lettuce or cabbage in the
garden this is a likely culprit: Cabbage Looper
- March 26th, 2012
This fly is wearing a disguise and doesn't know it: Thick-headed Fly
- March 12th, 2012
When you find yourself quite excited to find this small, cryptic
and not-so-showy flower you have become a naturalist too! Spearleaf
- February 25th, 2012
Cotton socks have been a boon to the spread and proliferation of
plants with burs! Flat-spine Stick-seed
- Jan. 21th, 2012
Plants with a name like 'Cooba', are clearly out of place in the
Sonoran Desert: Willow Acacia
- December 20th, 2011
A small, drab-gray moth sitting quietly on a flower head is also
a player in the magnificent Sonoran Desert ecosystem: Microlepidoptera
- December 1st, 2011
Apparently, Prairie Falcons find Mourning Doves very pleasant to
eat: Falcons Like High
- November 16th, 2011
Male birds can look very different than females. Also, juvenile
plumage can be very distinct from the adult's. Juvenile
- November 12th, 2011
Long before we spotted the owl, the owl spotted us as a birding group hiked Reach 11
- October 15th, 2011
They're sometimes called pill-bugs, but they're not bugs at all.
- September 20th, 2011
Photos and descriptions of 42 bird species from Kenya, Africa:
- August 26th, 2011
Ann McDermott shares and alternate view of life and mystery of
survival in the Sonoran Desert: Roadrunner Bill Clacking
- August 17th, 2011
Hot weather in the low desert might drive nature hikers into the
mountains: Cliff Rose and Horsetail Milkweed
- July 21st, 2011
New photos and a map added to Arizona Desert Urban Habitat page
for: Phoenix, Granada
- June 2nd, 2011
Clearly, areas with abundant fish to support pelicans, are few in
the Sonoran Desert: American White Pelican
- May 25nd, 2011
Thanks to a generous photo submission by a visitor to this
website we now have a good photo of a Gilded Flicker
- May 16th, 2011
One must appreciate the important roll that filter-feeding
mosquitoes play in aquatic systems and the amazing engineering of their phlebotomist's gear.
Yellow Fever Mosquito
- May 2nd, 2010
Hungry birds hunting for insects usually avoid ants altogether
and thus avoid this bug also because it Looks Like an Ant
- April 23rd, 2011
Amazing variety and colors of galls on Scrub Live Oak: Oak Galls
- Mar. 10th, 2011
Plants with strong flavors have been frequent immigrants to the
Sonoran Desert: Henbit Deadnettle
- Feb. 14th, 2011
Brittlebush is a very common and there's a lot of activity in and
on these plants: Brittle Bush, Page 2
- January 22nd, 2011
Ladder-backed Woodpeckers learn to open a lunchbox (of sorts):
- December 8th, 2010
Sometimes even a devotee of the Sonoran Desert finds that a trip
to Arizona's high country brings relief and comfort: Plants Among the Pines
- October 31st, 2010
This close relative of the garden tomato and a closer relative of
the tomatillo used in Mexican cooking grows commonly at mid elevations in Arizona: Ivy-leaf Groundcherry
- October 20th, 2010
Western Tent Caterpillars can sometimes completely defoliate
riparian trees: Willows, Cottonwoods or
- July 20th, 2010
A new guide on Arizona Naturalists describes 34 species of plants
found in Sycamore Canyons. Riparian
Woodland Gallery Flora
- June 18th, 2010
When it gets too sunny and hot for dragonflies they obelisk to
reduce sun exposure.
- June 10th, 2010
The Tucson Mountains ring the western rim of the Tucson valley
and give residents convenient access to the wondrous Sonoran Desert: Tucson
- May 14th, 2010
This new stink bug might not be a good thing:
Painted Stink Bug
- Apr. 26th, 2010
Xeriscape gardeners are enamored with the brilliant hot pink to
magenta flowers of Parry's Penstemon: Uses Less Water too!
- Apr. 8th, 2010
Even less common plants have grown and are blooming this El
Niño year: Three New Blazing
- Mar. 31st, 2010
Urbanites shouldn't feel satisfaction knowing that the sounds
from the bug-zapper represent the destruction a beneficial insect: Green Lacewing
- Mar. 24th, 2010
Progress is being made to have a page for every Sonoran Desert
plant species: Arizona Lupine
- Mar. 10th, 2010
Bracket Fungi work to recycle the tough wood and lignin in a dead
cottonwood: Ganoderma Shelf Fungus
- Mar. 2th, 2010
Tallus snails hide for months on end within their shells waiting
and waiting for the desert to be wet again: Hill Top Snails
- February 17th, 2010
Winter season is the most comfortable time to explore the hot,
dry ranges in far southwestern Arizona: Muggins Mountains
- Feb. 10th, 2010
Pygmy-Cedar looks for all the World like a conifer of some kind
... But It Is
- Feb. 4th, 2010
A delicate butterfly thrives in one of the most inhospitable
places in the Sonoran Desert. Scrub Mallow Hairstreak
- Jan. 14th, 2010
A new project on Arizonensis! Sycamore woodlands are like ribbons
of green through the desert: Sycamore
Creeks and Canyons
- Jan. 4th, 2010
An ant-eater in Arizona: Red-shafted Flicker
- Dec. 9th, 2009
A Lark Sparrow hides in the grass while in plain sight: Above All, Avoid Predation
- Nov. 12th, 2009
Cattle Egrets like to follow in the tracks of cows, sheep or
tractors: To Catch a Hopper
- Nov. 2nd, 2009
Juncos are rare one winter and common the next in the Sonoran
- Oct. 8th, 2009
The Sonoran Desert has become home to many plants from around the
- Sep 29th, 2009
What made these perfectly smooth holes in a cottonwood leaf?
- Sept. 15th, 2009
Common, but very aware and ready to run ... fast! Zebra-tailed Lizard
- Sept. 3rd, 2009
These birds must dry their feathers after diving for fish:
- Aug. 24th, 2009
Page # 1000 just added! A water bird in the Sonoran Desert:
- Aug 17th, 2009
At night after a monsoon deluge these very large toads emerge to
feast and reproduce: Sonoran Desert Toad
- Aug 11th, 2009
Did you spot that humongous wasp?: Tarantula Hawk
- Aug 3rd, 2009
Studying ecology is often about finding connections. Seep Monkey
flower supports a butterfly: Common Buckeye
- July 16th, 2009
While bicycling through Phoenix streets I saw city birds,
landscape plants, weeds and aggregations of Homo sapiens. Bike Rider Naturalist
- June 9th, 2009
Walk among grand Arizona Sycamores and you just might receive the
attention of this large bird: Common Black Hawk
- June 8th, 2009
In transition from Sonoran Desert to Chaparral a springtime
favorite wildflower: Purple or Chaparral Nightshade
- June 1st, 2009
Century Plants bloom only once before they die, so they go all
- May 26th, 2009
Red could mean blood. Or else red could symbolize passion. But
for hummingbirds it's an advert for a sugar reward: Wavy-leaf
- May 19th, 2009
These little flies that don't even bite are amazingly annoying!
- May 5th, 2009
Another butterfly flits onto the pages of the Sonoran Desert
Naturalist: Empress Leilia
- April 28st, 2009
A Moth in a Bumblebee disguise. Snowberry Clearwing
- Apr. 20th, 2009
Watch a video by Arizona Botanist Wendy Hodgson on the: Agaves Page
- Apr. 15th, 2009
After a long winter this lizard looks pretty thin and hungry:
- Apr. 9th, 2009
The glory of these wildflowers fades by mid morning: Tufted Evening
- Apr. 6th, 2009
Pink Penstemons are Showy: Desert Beard-tongue
- March 24th, 2009
Temperatures like Paradise in winter and Hell in summer! Quartzite, Arizona
- March 12th, 2009
Sora and other rails would rather not be seen: Sora is a Marsh
- Mar. 5th, 2009
With so many scenic routes in Arizona it is hard to choose
favorites: The Apache Trail
- Mar. 3rd, 2009
Wildflowers in the western Arizona Deserts do not last long:
Yellow Sun Cup
- Feb 26th, 2009:
Pima Canyon is a Tucson standard for mountain hiking and a quick
escape into the wilderness. Rugged Canyonlands near Tucson
- February 19th, 2009
Thumb images and links to common desert birds: Thrashers, Hawks, Doves, etc.
- February 15th, 2009
Wetland and riparian birds in the Sonoran Desert: Ducks, Shorebirds, Blackbirds,
- February 5th, 2009
Jim Blaugh contributes a photo of a horned lizard: Desert Horned
- January 28th, 2009
Arizonensis now has 800 pages of Arizona Natural History!
- January 21st, 2009
Butterflies of many kinds brighten the Sonoran Desert. Butterflies and
- January 12th, 2009
The Sonoran Desert is home to plenty of multi-legged creatures.
- December 30th, 2008
Bugs, aphids and plant hoppers in the Sonoran Desert. True Bugs.
- December 23rd, 2008
Wasps and Bee thumbnails all on one page: Including Ants.
- December 11th, 2008
Beetle thumbnails all on one page: Amazing Beetles.
- Dec 1st, 2008:
Much of the Sonoran Desert is Basin & Range with recent
volcanic activity. Lava in the Desert at Painted Rock.
- November 18th, 2008
Desert squirrels deal with extended drought, searing hot
temperatures, starvation, and on top of that, Bot Flies.
- Nov 10th, 2008
John Gunn, resource manager at Spur Cross Conservation Area
contributed a great photo of a Desert
- October 31st, 2008
Queen Butterflies with their languid, seemingly carefree flight,
belie the intense struggle to survive they must endure. Example: Tachinid Parasites.
- October 22nd, 2008
This snazzy outfit is actually good for hiding out in. Elegant Katydid.
- October 10th, 2008
J. B. S. Haldane reportedly stated that The Creator has in
‘inordinate fondness for beetles.’ Large Metallic Wood-boring Beetle .
- Oct. 2nd, 2008
With so many yellow composites, some naturalists are happy with
'Yellow Composite!': Page
- September 24th, 2008
This grasshopper of the Sonoran Desert Summer displays every
color of the rainbow! Poecilotettix
- Sep. 17th, 2008
This giant member of the grass family is becoming a giant
problem. Giant Reed.
- Sep. 11th, 2008
Many citrus family members have a pleasant aroma. Few, however,
find this one to their liking: Turpentine Broom.
- September 4th, 2008
Wooly Bursage is a plant cattle seem to hate, but these beetles
love it. Ambrosia Leaf Beetles.
- August 27th, 2008
The Sonoran Desert Naturalist has been growing steadily for 15
years. Recently the 700th page was added! Ash-throated Flycatcher.
- August 19th, 2008
Late at night in the Sonoran Desert National Monument I observed
this wonderful stick insect: Creosote Bush Walking Stick.
- Aug. 13th, 2008
Native plants are the foundation of a vibrant Sonoran Desert
community: Desert Broom Ecology.
- Aug. 7th, 2008
These small black bugs are common on Desert Tobacco: Negro Bugs.
- Aug. 4th, 2008
This shrub with three shiny leaves is not poison ivy: Hop Tree.
- July 21th, 2008
A surprising, troubling and economically useful insect: Cochineal Scale.
- June 11th, 2008
Native plants are the foundation of a vibrant Sonoran Desert
community: Goodding's Willow Ecology.
- June 9th, 2008
A clear favorite tree for many people in Arizona: Net-leaf Hackberry.
- June 5st, 2008
Many plant species must be examined with a good magnifying glass
for accurate identification: Wingnut Cryptantha nutlets.
- May 21st, 2008
When flowers put on a red dress it means they will likely gain
attention from a hummingbird! Cardinal Monkeyflower.
- May 2nd, 2008:
Outdoor enthusiasts find that freedom from noise and freedom from
restrictions collide at Hassayampa Box Canyon.
- April 30th, 2008
Appearing as dollops of orange sherbet these spring flowers don't
last long once the summer heat returns - like this Coulter's Globe Mallow.
- April 24th, 2008
So many shades of yellow in the Sonoran Desert - like this
Desert Evening Primrose.
- Apr. 21st, 2008
This arachnid really likes eating termites. But people still have
trouble accepting this enemy of their enemy as a friend: Arizona Bark
- April 3rd, 2008
Snow in the Sonoran Desert does not last long in the heat of the
day. Evening Snow
- March 31st, 2008
Most flower's pollen is yellow, but this one has blue pollen.
Why? Lesser Yellowthroat Gilia
- March 20th, 2008
If your busy friends could slow down just a bit and take a look
they wouldn't ask why you're lying flat in the desert. White Easterbonnets
- March 11th, 2008
Psyllium helps keep humans regular and desert soils in place!
- February 20st, 2008
Serpent-like cactus tempts passing birds with sweet red fruit:
It's how Night-blooming Cereus disperses its seeds.
- February 14st, 2008
This spring do yourself a treat and go out and smell a Brownfoot
- February 1st, 2008
Nodding spike of white flowers touched with red: Booth's
- January 30th, 2008
A quintessential desert plant: Wand
- January 16th, 2008:
Will the Solitude be Broken at Buckeye Hills?
- Jan. 11th, 2008
Sonoran Desert Plant Guide ordered by Family: Sonoran
- Dec. 20th, 2007
Water Strider on Ice: Gerrids
- Nov 30th, 2007
Expanding the Plant Family pages for the Sonoran Desert Field
Guide: Sonoran Desert
- Oct 31st, 2007
Expanding the Plant Family pages for the Sonoran Desert Field
Guide: Sonoran Desert
- Oct 18th, 2007
Ancient, cone-bearing shrub: Long-leaf
- Oct 10th, 2007
Plant families, like human families, also have more in common
than just a name: Sonoran Desert
- Oct 3rd, 2007
Looking for Velvet in the Desert: Yellow
- Sept. 26th, 2007
Is this the World's worst weed?: Purple
- Aug. 27th, 2007
This weed is listed as "edible". What does it taste like?
- Aug. 27th, 2007
Here's another very delicate and attractive grass native to the
Sonoran Desert: Needle
- Aug. 23rd, 2007
These bright red berries are rather tasty and certainly not
- Aug. 20th, 2007
Finding Silver in the Sonoran Desert: Narrow-leaf
- July 17th, 2007
What would a desert be without thorny plants? This is the one of
the Sonoran Desert's most common species: Graythorn
- July 15th, 2007
These small spiders are common on the walls of homes in the
Sonoran Desert: Wall Spider
- June 18th, 2007
Oleander Shrubs in Arizona could be wiped out: Smoketree
- June 12th, 2007
Native Fire Ant photo by Dale Ward Sting
- May 30th, 2007
Beautiful, tropical duck: Black-bellied
- May 8th, 2007
Black smudges on Bermuda Grass are Smut
- April 25th, 2007
Butterflies Sipping Sap: Arizona
- April 6th, 2007
Adding more pages to the field guide: Cane
Goldenbush, and Owl's
- March 3rd, 2007
Brightly colored aphids are probably poisonous
- January 12th, 2007
Where the Sonoran Desert meets Inland Chaparral: Mountain
- December 28th, 2006
You know you're a plant lover when you get excited upon finding a
new shrub species that is Plain and
- December 4th, 2006
Smooth, Succulent, Sage-Green Stems. Desert
- November 29th, 2006
A Touch of the Mojave. The Joshua
- November 14th, 2006
The Pygmy Blue may be the smallest of all
- November 6th, 2006
Sometimes even good insurance doesn't work: Lynx Takes
- September 27th, 2006
The Sonoran Desert is Home to a surprising number of beautiful
- September 20th, 2006
A spiny cucumber with big black seeds: Big Root
- September 12th, 2006
The Sonoran Desert ecosystem has many players:
- September 8th, 2006
Only Bumblebee common in the Sonoran Desert:
- September 7th, 2006
Details under magnification - like a schizocarp.
- August 30th, 2006
Not really dangerous, but it can squirt you! Leaf-footed
- July 21st, 2006
Inspirational art work by Frances Plagens
- July 1st, 2006
Check out this Beautiful Boy Bee: Green
- May 17th, 2006
Digital photos are just too easy. Let's try some more
watercolors instead: Snapdragon Bush and
- April 16th, 2006
A bit out of place in the Sonoran Desert: Cliff
- Feb. 1st, 2006
Quite common, but might go unnoticed: Brickel Bush
- Jan 15th, 2006:
Chaparral in the Sonoran: Shrub Live Oak
-do you like this pen & ink?
- Oct, 8th, 2005:
Skimmer, Red Rock
Meadowhawk and Gray Sand
- Sept. 15th, 2005:
Lowland Leopard Frog: Uncommon Frog.
- June 30th, 2005:
Metallic Woodboring Beetle Armor-plated,
- June 19th, 2005:
Gambel's Quail Life can be
dangerous for these lovely, tasty birds
- June 12th, 2005:
Puncture Vines Don't Step on Me!
- June 11th, 2005:
Miniature Agaves? Rock Echeveria
- May 22nd, 2005:
Saguaro in bloom. Added photos of
saguaro cactus flowers
- May 18th, 2005:
Round-tail Ground Squirrel Not a
gopher! Not a prairie dog either.
- January 30th, 2005:
Mojave Desert Star Beautiful Dwarf
- January 24th, 2005:
KOFA Mountains & Palm Canyon Spring Spectacular
- December 22nd, 2004:
Canyon Tree Frog Camouflaged and
hard to see.
- November 7th, 2004:
Giant Crab Spider Scary, but not
- June 14th, 2004:
Giant Hairy Scorpion Scary, but not
- May 23rd, 2004:
Roadrunner. Beep! Beep!
- May 19th, 2004:
Largest Flowering Plant in the USA: Fremont
- Mar. 12th, 2004:
Don't weigh yourself with this waxy scale!
- Feb. 26th, 2004:
Dainty Sulphur A Lovely Tiny
- Oct. 25th, 2003:
Mediterranean Gecko Go!
- Oct. 11th, 2003:
Mojave Aster Go! and
Centaury Go! - new
wildflowers in fieldguide section.
- Aug. 24th, 2003:
Colorful Tiger Rattlesnake at Piestewa Peak. Go!
- June 22nd, 2003:
Enigma - Mystery and Wonder in the Desert Southwest.Go!
- June 9th, 2003:
Globe Mallow's hue is a springtime favorite. Go!
- April 23rd, 2003:
Hillside, Arizona: A rattlesnake (mojave?) is encouraged to
remove itself from the roadway. Go!
- March 16th, 2003:
Tonopah, Arizona: Saddle Mountain and Palo Verde Hills Go!
- January 11th, 2003:
Arizona Registry of Big Trees. Arizona is home to 72 species
that are largest of their kind in the United States. Go!
- November 9th, 2002:
Almanac of News articles arranged on Yearly Calendar. Go!
- October 13th, 2002:
Fall Wildflowers at Vulture Peak Go!
- September 15th, 2002:
Desert Warfare! Army Ants on the warpath! Go!
- September 12th, 2002:
The Field Guide has been expanded with more pictures of animals
such as insects and birds. Go!
- August 11th, 2002:
New page about the Goldfield Mountains near Apache Junction,
- August 6th, 2002:
Chain Fruit Cholla in Field Guide: Picture and
- June 9th, 2002:
New photos in Field Guide: A stately Saguaro Cactus poised above
the city of Phoenix, Arizona. Go!
- May 1st, 2002:
Papago Park, a convenient desert preserve and home to the Phoenix
Zoo and the Desert Botanical Gardens. Go!
Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2013