Sunday, April 7, 2019

Superbloom in Joshua Tree National Park becomes Super Caterpillar

A week ago we passed through the Sonoran Desert of California just south of Joshua Tree National Park, then continued on into the Pinto Basin of the National Park. There is an arbitrary point in the Pinto Basin we enjoy visiting. Even more when there is a true superbloom!

The superbloom isn't limited to vascular plants! This is a Stalked Puffball, a desert musroom benefiting from the same conditions that benefit the plants.

This annual is a daisy - Monoptilon - that I fell in love with as a kid. These cushions are only six inches across.

Our son had a blast playing with taking pictures of the plants with his tablet, and discovering the bugs. Which led to another discovery - Superbloom comes with Super-bug!

My son delighted in discovering these abundant caterpillars - of Hyles lineata, a Hawkmoth that as an adult can be mistaken for a small hummingbird. My son also liked that these caterpillars would hit you with their heads if you tried to bother them - a remarkably direct approach for a harmless caterpillar! These were just slightly less abundant than the flowers they were devouring. This one is shown next to a Plantago erecta, but it was actually eating an Oenothera heterophylla.

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