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Flying Insect Surveys

Unidentified Stink BugCurrently, the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy’s Field Institute is conducting surveys of ALL LIFE in the Preserve. These surveys will continue for the next few years and I’m so happy to be a part of them! My very favorites of these surveys are Flora, Flying Insects, Birds and Herps. With the exception of Flora (which I collect and document), my primary goal on the surveys is to photograph the outings. I then donate the images to the Conservancy for use on their website and/or printed material.  A bonus for me is the education I’m receiving. Love it!

Below are photos from our most recent flying insect survey. Sorry for all the “unidentified”. Our experts are really busy. I must purchase bug books!

Fraesfield Tank

Fraesfield Tank. A tank is a man made reservoir for watering cattle (created in the 1950s ranching days of Scottsdale). Although there is rarely much water in it, it does stay somewhat damp most of the year.

Michael Shillingburg of the Nico Franz Lab at ASU

Michael Shillingburg of the Nico Franz Lab at ASU photographing a tiny butterfly


This common Checkered-Skipper is what Michael was photographing in the previous image.

Male Checkered White Butterflies

The grasses were teaming with male Checkered White Butterflies.

Female Checkered White Butterfly

Female Checkered White Butterfly

Coyote Gourd

Sometimes Survey’s intersect such as finding this blooming Coyote Gourd. We had collected the plant but also needed the flower and fruit!


Tiny orange Grasshopper

Unidentified Tiny orange Grasshopper.


Queen Butterfly

We saw several Queen Butterflies but there was no Milkweed so they must have been nectaring.


Western Pygmy Blue

The Western Pygmy Blue is one of the smallest butterflies in the world!


Reakirt's Blue

Reakirt’s Blue Butterfly. Like most Blues, they rarely open their wings.


Unidentified Stink Bug

Unidentified Stink Bug


Unidentified Assassin Bug

Unidentified Assassin Bug


Empress Leilia Butterfly

Empress Leilia Butterfly getting minerals from the wet ground


American Snout

American Snout getting minerals from the wet ground

For more survey photos from April and May, CLICK HERE. (It’s a large gallery so give images time to load).

  1. Judy Tillson #

    Great photos, Marianne. thanks for sharing your current project. Why don’t the blues open — the few I’ve seen at the SD Zoo Safari Park are always closed!

    May 30, 2013
  2. marianne skov jensen #

    Thanks for looking, Judy! Most butterflies keep their wings closed which is unfortunate for us photographers but I’ve read that this behavior is a way to deter predators by not calling attention to themselves. Cool, huh?! The best time to catch them open is early in the morning when they’re trying to warm up. You’ll see them opening and closing their wings.

    May 31, 2013
  3. I have butterfly envy! You have so many species there it’s quite incredible. I would never think in that dry looking grass there would be so many. You are doing a great job and I really love the photo of the assassin bug!

    May 31, 2013
    • Thanks for your comment, Mandy! I was as surprised as you and could hardly believe there were so many butterflies there. A real treat! I must get some books, though. I’m so impressed that you almost always have IDs with your pix.

      May 31, 2013
      • My insect book has been invaluable Marianne, but I’m lost with the wildflowers. My own wildflower book covers UK and northern Europe, so wasn’t much good for Spain. May have to splash out on yet another ID book! Oh, and one for spiders…. 🙂

        June 1, 2013
        • You might need to do what I did, Mandy, and that’s to write your own Wildflower ID book (just photos and short description)! I am doing a similar thing for the local insects but there are so many species, I’m not going to attempt to publish it.

          June 1, 2013
          • But then I’d have to go back to Spain… not a bad thing, but I’d still be none the wiser! More important to know what is growing around where I live, but here is much better documented already. I am trying to make a concerted effort to tag my photos in Picasa now so I can remember all the IDs that I have spent hours struggling over. (some) Insects are hard to ID so good luck!

            June 3, 2013

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