Catalina Blacklighting 2019

A summary of all of the times I blacklighted in the Santa Catalina Mountains in the previous year, mainly to help me see which locations and times of the year I neglected so that I can focus on those areas in 2020.

Molino Canyon Vista
Mile 4 Catalina Highway. Oak grassland, 4100 feet
July 12: A lot of interesting small stuff, but I didn't realize until the end of the night that I was using my light's lowest setting all night.
August 15: Conditions were great and the light was very productive, the sheet quickly becoming covered with many insects. But the night was cut short due to a mountain lion scare, and in total I was only out for about an hour.
September 22: Relatively slow and at times very windy, but still pulling in great diversity of mostly small stuff. Joined by @blazeclaw whose observations can be found here

Molino Basin
Mile 5 Catalina Highway. Oak grassland, 4500 feet
June 28: Lots of small stuff, but good diversity. This night was more of a test outing for my new portable usb blacklight (see here), and I was fairly happy with the results. Triatoma also present, and cicadas coming to the light were a mild annoyance.
July 1: Hemiptera and beetles beginning to become more diverse, including the first giant longhorns of the year. The star of the night however was Melacoryphus lateralis, hundreds of which infiltrated my clothes and my car. Triatoma continue to be present as well
July 19: This was a unnique night in that I didn't set up a sheet at all; instead, I just left my light on the ground and observed what beetles came to it, mostly scarabs and Elaterids, and then picked up and drove to a different spot (Bug Spring Trailhead) and did the same.
August 6: Night cut short due to sudden heavy winds and light rain
August 7: Trying again in the same spot after the previous night's failure, this night saw a lot of very large moths as well as good beetle diversity. But the light also attracted an unusually high number of paper wasps as well as a great many burning blister beetles, so I never felt too comfortable.
August 13: Ran into another group blacklighting (with an MV light), which seemed to attract at least a few things I'd never seen before. Also the first Hercules Beetle of the year.

Gordon Hirabayashi Campground
Mile 7 Catalina Highway. Oak grassland, 5000 feet
August 9: I wanted Saturniids this night, and it definitely felt like a good omen when the first moth to the sheet was a new-to-me Saturniid. However, no more came. Looking beyond that minor disappointment, though, this was a very good night.
August 12: Fantastic night especially for beetles and click beetles in particular.
September 3 -4: A great night especially for moths.
September 5: A good night for moths and the last Chrysina sighting of the year.

Bug Spring Trailhead
Mile 7 Catalina Highway. Interior chaparral / oak grassland, 5200 feet
March 21: first blacklighting of the year. Overall low diversity, mostly macromoths and not much else.
March 25: slightly higher diversity, but still mostly macromoths. However, the most abundant insects were these tiny green mirids.
June 4: First good blacklighting night of the year. Good diversity of moths , plus FOTY fireflies, antlions, and fishflies. Also the first Triatoma
June 20: Good diversity of mostly moths.
July 19: See commentary under Molino Basin, July 19
September 12: Good diversity, but most of the colorful monsoon moths and large beetles have disappeared. Adult mantids more common than usual stalking the light this night.

Bear Canyon Picnic Areas
Mile 11 Catalina Highway. Oak-juniper woodland, 5700 feet
April 18: Low diversity, mostly macromoths, nothing exceptional, probably due to poor conditions.
June 18: Good diversity of mostly moths.
June 24: Good diversity, especially moths including some very interesting taxa appearing for the first time. Joined by @kueda whose observations can be found here
July 3: A great night with many interesting finds, especially small stuff.
July 5: Riding on the success of the previous night, I return to the same location to pick up anything I might have missed and manage to find a few new and interesting things.
July 9: Good night for beetles, especially scarabs and giant longhorns
July 23: National Moth Week with Jeff Babson, but the night was all about the beetles. Great diversity, including the FOTY of large green Chrysina scarabs.
August 1: Great diversity including the FOTY giant saturniid moth.
August 16: A very great moth night.
August 21: A quieter night, mostly moths.
August 26: A fairly good night, especially for moths. Joined by @silversea_starsong whose observations can be found here.
September 11: Good diversity, but most of the colorful monsoon moths and large beetles have disappeared.
September 26: A good night especially for moths, with two different species of glassywing moths showing up in great numbers. 2 different species of phasmids also wandered onto the sheet at the end of the night. Joined by @blazeclaw whose observations can be found here.

Manzanita Vista
Mile 12 Catalina Highway. Interior chaparral, 6300 feet
August 8: Decided to try something new this night in setting up here. The area is dominated by shrubby vegetation such as Brickellia and Manzanita, and there are no tall trees from which to hang a sheet. Instead, I laid out my sheet on the ground and set up my light on a tripod in the center. Surprisingly, fairly high diversity! The openness of the area without heavy obscuration from trees probably makes it a very good location, but to date this is the first and last time I have set up here.

Unnamed pullout
Mile 15.7 Catalina Highway. Oak-pine woodland, 7000 feet
July 8: First time blacklighting this spot; relatively slow night
July 18: Beetles! Especially longhorns, with Prionus being the most common. Some good moths also made an appearance.

Upper Green Mountain Trailhead
Mile 17 Catalina Highway. Oak-pine woodland, 6800 feet
June 6: Good diversity, especially Geometridae. Also FOTY nocturnal longhorns and scarabs.
July 2: Good diversity of mostly moths
August 14: A very good night with high diversity
August 27: A fairly good night for moths. Joineed by @silversea_starsong whose observations can be found here.

Totals
March: 2
April: 1
May: 0
June: 6
July: 10
August: 13
September: 6

In total I blacklighted in the Catalinas 38 nights in 2019 with the height of activity in the summer, during which period I would blacklight about once every three nights. The period from March-May in comparison is extremely undersampled, at least in terms of the nocturnal fauna. Weather permitting I hope I can change that in 2020, and maybe shed some light on early-season fliers that I may have missed entirely last year.

And anyone in or visiting the Tucson area that is interested in blacklighting in the Catalinas in 2020 just send me a message, I am always down for social blacklighting especially in these mountains.

Posted by psyllidhipster psyllidhipster, February 10, 2020 22:13

Comments

Thumb

Chris, totally want to entomologize with you again!!! I hope I can jump over to Arizona sometime... not sure when, but sometime. :)

Also, freaking great photos and observations. Such high quality additions to iNat. Keep it up, my friend!

Posted by sambiology 7 months ago (Flag)
Thumb

Thanks Sam, definitely hit me up if you're ever in the area! I'd love to get back to TX sometime soon, had a blast last time I was out there.

Posted by psyllidhipster 7 months ago (Flag)
Thumb

Always a pleasure seeing your obs Chris! Those nights are memorable as well. Let's just take an entire year off and light every day!

Posted by silversea_starsong 7 months ago (Flag)
Thumb

I love this summary! It's interesting to see what creatures come and go over the months.

Posted by kimberlietx 7 months ago (Flag)
Thumb

@silversea_starsong I agree! It's always fun and the summers are just too short.
@kimberlietx Thanks and definitely! that's one of my favorite parts of doing it throughout the year

Posted by psyllidhipster 7 months ago (Flag)
Thumb

So on that day that Chris was good enough to join me on Mt. Lemmon, we agreed to meet at the Butterfly Trailhead and do a bit of a day hike before running the lights. Chris got caught in traffic so he texted to say he'd be a bit late and to get going without him, and since I figured I'd be moving slowly photographing stuff, I assumed we'd meet up eventually... which we did, after like 2 hours of what I thought was pretty slow puttering, figuring I'd gone too far, and returning to the trailhead. Chris was like 1/8 of a mile in, meticulously photographing all the things I'd missed, like this sweet stilt-legged fly: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/27656060. Next level attentiveness!

Also, this crazy thing remains on my Top 10 Things I Saw In Arizona in 2019 list AND my Top 10 Animals That Should Be Embiggened To Horse Size So I Can Ride Them Into Glorious Battle list.

Good luck in 2020!

Posted by kueda 7 months ago (Flag)
Thumb

That was a good day! Besides the part where I got stuck behind the slowest driver in the state for the entire length of the mount lemmon highway, anyway. Give me a call if you find yourself in the area anytime again this year! Hopefully the monsoons are more productive in 2020.

Posted by psyllidhipster 7 months ago (Flag)

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments