ARIZONA: Pima County
In desert off AZ Hwy. 85 about ten miles SE of Ajo, just north of the entrance to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
ITEM: A DARKLING BEETLE, ELEODES sp.
At dusk a couple of nights back while I lay in Henry, something began moving across the sand below the window. In the darkness it could have been anything from a mouse to a tarantula. The flashlight revealed a very sturdily built, completely black beetle over an inch long. Walking stiffly on long legs armored with jagged serrations, it kept its ample rear-end elevated high above its head. Having never seen this species before and not knowing whether it might bite, I nudged it with a stick. It reacted by bowing its head to the sand and poking its rear-end even higher. This was done with such purposefulness that I half expected the business end of a switchblade to flip out. However, nothing visible happened. Only when I picked up the fascist-looking beetle did I finally understand its defense. Issuing from the rear end was the intense odor of super-bitter Creosote-bush. If I'd been a raccoon exploring this bug with my nose, I'd have been stymied. The field guides refer to this insect as a kind of darkling beetle, sometimes called stink beetle, or Pinacate beetle. It's in the genus Eleodes. About 100 Eleodes species occur in the Western States. I'm betting that this one eats creosote-bush sometime during its life cycle.
ITEM: NO AGAVES, NO YUCCAS
ITEM: COYOTE CALLS
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