Bugs, frogs and other critters

A praying mantis looks as me quizzically while I photograph it from all angles. Seriously, I probably took a hundred pictures while he patiently waited for me to finish.

The longer we’re here, the more I find myself noticing the little things. When we first moved to the desert, I continually marveled at the sweeping vistas, the pink-hued sunsets and the snow-capped ridges. Now my eyes drift down to the ground seeking out bugs or parsing the trees with binoculars in search of birds. I had some really good bug sightings this summer and managed to capture a few of them with the camera.

The dragonflies were abundant and amazing, and I finally figured out that they molt out of their nymph stage leaving behind a bug husk. They emerge as a translucent-winged creature before finally gaining their beautiful brilliant color.

Transforming from a nymph to a dragonfly.
The husk they leave behind is called an exuvia.
The dragonfly in all its glory. It seems they come in all colors. I’ve seen blue, green and orange ones here in the high desert.

On one occasion, while trying to pick some salt grass out of the walkway, I almost grabbed a praying mantis that totally blended into the green mass of grass. I saw quite a few around the house this summer. I could sit and watch them all day. They can actually move pretty quickly at times. I even read a piece in the New York Times claiming that they not only eat other bugs but can attack humming birds, punching through their skulls to eat their brains. They are a formidable bug, perhaps to be both feared and admired.

And don’t get me started on the frogs. It was a good year for frogs here. They were all over our yard. I couldn’t take three steps without having multiple tiny frogs leaping to get out of the way. It was almost comical at times. Usually they would congregate on some potted tomato and pepper plants we had sitting in the backyard. They especially liked the bell peppers and would pile up on one another perhaps because the real estate was a bit limited.

How many frogs do you count?
I call this one “Frog on leaf.” Gravity-defying.

Butterflies and moths were in abundance as well. A Swallowtail butterfly and a Blinded Sphinx moth were especially pretty (at least, I think that’s what they are thanks to a quick internet search).

Swallowtail butterfly
Blinded Sphinx moth

In the past we’ve seen coyotes come into the yard this time of year to feast on olives courtesy of the Russian olive trees. This year however, the raccoons have taken over. We’ve counted no less than seven and frequently see a family of four traipsing around gathering olives on the ground or climbing the trees to get better access.

These three. It’s like they’ve never seen a woman with a camera before.
These two elusive creatures can often be found throwing rocks in the creek during the daylight hours and can be identified by their distinctive giggles.

5 thoughts on “Bugs, frogs and other critters

  1. The photography is exquisite! Worthy of National Geographic. The information was so interesting. Gave me a whole new meaning to a Praying or should it be “Preying” Mantis! Yikes! The last creatures pictured are my favorite. They can hang around in my yard forever!!❤️❤️

  2. Fantastic photos! One reminds me of a trip up the mountain with an unhurt – but very angry- raccoon in a wire cage.

  3. Amazing!! Who would have ever thought the high desert could host that much diverse flora and fauna?! Such great pictures, and the descriptions are awesome too! Love, love, LOVE your posts!!!!

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