As a followup to the Gross Science panel at Phoenix Fan Fest, here are some noted insects of the Sonoran Desert.
Feeds on snakeweed and desert broom, making it distasteful to predators.
Cause white spots to appear on cacti due to their feeding.
Different species emerge at disparate times of the year and males sing distinct songs. Desert cicada life cycles are 3-7 years in contrast with Eastern cicadas’ 13-17 years. Desert species are the only known insects who can sweat.
Palo Verde Beetle
Larvae feed on roots–sometimes palo verde or mesquite trees–for up to three years.
Sometimes know as Child of the Earth or Skull Insect, they are cousins of katydids and wetas and nocturnal predators.
Iron-Cross Blister Beetle
Blood contains cantharidin which causes blisters. They pupate in native been nests.
Females hunt tarantulas for food for her offspring. Usually nectar feeds and non-aggressive, never swat at them as their sting is very painful.
Along with bumble bee queens, carpenter bees (genus Xylocopa) are the largest native bees in the United States. There are numerous species of carpenter bees that inhabit a broad range of ecosystems from tropical to subtropical to temperate. In the United States carpenters bees can be found across the southern United States from Arizona to Florida and in the eastern United States, north to New York.
These gentle giants get their name from their life history habits of excavating precisely rounded galleries inside wood. Using their broad, strong mandibles (jaws), they chew into dead but non-decayed limbs or trunks of standing dead trees. Some species, like the eastern Xylocopa virginica, occasionally take up residence in fence posts or structural timbers, especially redwood, and become a minor nuisance. Inside their rounded branched galleries, they form pollen/nectar loaves upon which they lay their giant eggs (up to 15 mm long). The female forms partitions between each egg cell by mixing sawdust and her saliva together. These partition walls are very similar to particle board.