Its been an unusual summer, weather-wise, on the Grand Canyon’s northwest rim. The monsoons have been intense this year. My on-a-lark 71 mile drive down a dirt road to Toroweap ended 6.3 miles short of the goal. Flash floods washed out the road.
Being in the neighborhood anyway, I decided to switch gears and do other things… one of those things was to capture some spring-like flora and fauna that were out in force.
Desert lilies have large blossoms and are usually white. This species of lily is unusual for the way its pedals merge together with little spikes. I’m never seen it before. Don’t know what the orange wildflower is, either. 😉
Two critters crossed my path…
The first was the Agassiz’s Desert Tortoise who darted out in front of me from a side bush. It is listed as a threatened species under the endangered species act. They mostly prowl the Sonora and Mojave deserts.
The other critter that crossed horns with me was a Tarantula Hawk.
Its a big sucker. It looks like a giant termite with orange wings. But don’t be fooled… it is a wasp and the most venomous insect in North America!!
Fortunately, it is generally non-aggressive toward anything but tarantulas. For them it bestows a particularly gruesome fate. It flies up from behind to land on the tarantula’s back and stings it in the abdomen.
The sting doesn’t kill… it paralyzes the spider. Then the wasp injects its eggs into spider and buries it in a burrow. The eggs hatch and the baby spiders feed off the still living spider until they are big enough to fend for themselves in this big ‘ol bad world.
Among other desert wildflowers currently blooming are Purple Aster, Desert Primrose, Yellow Desert Beeplant and Orange Globemallow :