Posts Tagged ‘arizona’

Centruroides sculpturatus – Arizona Bark Scorpion

I have a hard time getting worked up over stuff that happened 25 years ago. But here’s something that still angers me every time I think of it.

One of those educational safety movies we were shown back in grade school- you know, the “Stop-Drop-and-Roll” variety- presented the dangers of the Bark Scorpion. The film featured dark tones and a dramatic reenactment of a deadly encounter, complete with screams and fainting.

This was shown in Rochester, New York, mind you. We don’t have scorpions anywhere near Rochester. The climate is is far too cold. And the one potentially dangerous American species, our friend the bark scorpion, is found in Arizona. As far as anyone knows, the Bark Scorpion has only killed two people since 1968. Did I mention that Rochester consistently sports one of the highest homicide rates in the country? No? Well. At least the kids in Rochester know to check their shoes for the dreaded bark scorpion.

There was absolutely no reason to show that horrible movie, other than to instill in children the idea that arthropods are scary, icky, dangerous animals that should be killed. No reason. It still ticks me off that someone’s bug phobia got turned into a state-endorsed lesson plan.

While out photographing harvester ants this weekend, I happened upon one of these dreaded animals when I disturbed a rock. The scorpion, which as you can see is a very pretty orange animal, cowered. It tried to make itself look as small as possible. This made for a boring picture so I poked at its legs with a twig, hoping that it might brandish a claw or wave its tail about photogenically. Instead it ran for cover. I let it go.

photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon 20D
f/13, 1/250 sec, ISO 100, twin flash diffused through tracing paper

Read Full Post »




The Saguaro might, one could fancy, be a tree designed by someone who had never seen a tree.

Donald Culross Peattie, 1950



Read Full Post »


Colliuris sp. long-necked ground beetle, Arizona


details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon 20D
beetle on plain white paper
f/13, 1/250 sec, ISO 100
MT-24EX twin flash diffused through tracing paper
levels adjusted in Photoshop

Read Full Post »




If I had to pick a favorite myrmicine ant, I’d go with the heavily armored Neotropical genus Cephalotes. These arboreal ants are typically thought of as rainforest canopy dwellers, but we have a desert species here in Arizona, Cephalotes rohweri, that is the northernmost species in an otherwise tropical genus. They nest in abandoned beetle burrows in the dead wood of living Palo Verde trees.


Earlier this month, myrmecologist Scott Powell was in town to scope out a potential research project on our local populations. Scott has been studying how the nesting ecology of these ants drives the evolution of the highly-specialized soldier caste, focusing on populations in Brazil, but is looking to expand his project to include other species. By the looks of it, C. rohweri will make a fine experimental system. Scott was kind enough to let me photograph a few of the colonies he brought into the lab for some preliminary studies, and this morning I uploaded a few of them to the galleries at myrmecos.net:




Incidentally, it turns out that the best way to bait Cephalotes is to urinate on a tree. I’m not making this up. There’s something about urine that attracts the workers.

Read Full Post »