Globe Mallow Community
Reminder: You can enlarge any of the photos in this blog by clicking on it. Click again for a full-screen image.
As spring commences (a bit early this year) I’ve resumed my desert walks at Sabino Canyon. The warm weather and recent rains have induced a lot of plants to put out growth and begin blooming. It’s just possible that we may have a decent wildflower season this year.
There’s nothing that I won’t photograph and, of course, I love to photograph all things associated with nature. But, what I really love to photograph most are reptiles and invertebrates, creatures who are associated with the warm weather of spring and the heat of summer and fall. The beginning of spring has reinvigorated me, because these creatures are beginning to become visible.
Yesterday, as I hiked in the desert, I noticed that many globe mallows are now in bloom. For most of the year these plants are drab and scrubby little shrubs. But, in early spring and again in autumn they bloom, producing a myriad of small and cup-like brilliant orange flowers. These flowers are a welcoming habitat for all sorts of insects, insects who come to drink nectar, eat pollen, or suck on the plant’s juices. I noticed yesterday that these little globe mallow plants harbored a veritable community of fascinating insects, most tiny, but coming in all sorts of shapes and colors.
Sweat bees are frequent visitors. These little bees are less than 1/4 inch in length. They live their lives almost unnoticed. They are innocuous for the most part, although in warmer weather one can sometimes find a few of them buzzing nearby. They get their name from the fact that they have an affinity for salt and can be attracted to human perspiration.
They are also beautiful. This one is a striking metallic green.
It was not the only species of bee that I saw. This solitary bee resembles a honey bee although it is only a fraction of a honey bee’s size.
There are more than 1000 species of bees living in the Sonoran Desert. Most of them, like this bee and the sweat bee, are solitary in the sense that they do not live in hives but rather, fend for themselves. Most are completely harmless to humans. We hardly notice them because they rarely if ever interact with people. And, yet, they are important as plant pollinators. Obviously, this bee and the sweat bee were doing yeoman’s duty on the globe mallow.
Bees are not the only species that live in the globe mallow community. I also found this little leaf-footed bug, again, barely 1/4 inch long. It’s not a nectar drinker to my knowledge. Leaf-footed bugs prey on plants, sucking plant juices.
I’ve barely scratched the surface. It is amazing how complex, varied, and vibrant life can be even down at the level of a single bush.
All photos taken with a Canon 5Diii, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens, assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, ISO 125, f14 or f16 @ 1/160.