The exotic color pattern of the gila monster (pronounced – Hee la) is black with pinkish or yellow spots and bands. Its unusual skin is beaded in appearance. Native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and Mexico, the Gila Monster is a species of venomous lizards. This lizard is named for the Gila River in Arizona where they used to be abundant.
Towards late summer, gila monsters become active after thunderstorms. Although this lizard is venomous, it moves very slow and represents very little threat to us humans. People often kill gila monsters due to fears; even though it is protected under Arizona state law.
If you encounter a Gila monster remain calm. This lizard will move on if left alone. Alert anyone in the vicinity and keep your pets away. For questions or advice call your Game and Fish Department.
Do not worry or have fears; the Gila monster tries hard to avoid humans and other large animals. To warn off potential predators, gila monster lizards will open their mouth very wide and hiss.
What to do if you are bitten by a gila monster? — A Gila monster bite is painful to humans but rarely causes death. The biggest problem you will have is trying to get the lizard to release its grip! The bite is strong, you may need to fully submerge the biting lizard in water to break free from the bite. If there is no water, you can use a stick to pry the gila monster’s jaw open. Be careful after you have dislodged it.
Remain calm if bitten and get to a medical facility immediately. Remove all jewelry from the bitten limb and keep it below heart level. DO NOT use a constriction bandage or a tourniquet on a gila monster bite.
The Gila monster eats primarily reptile eggs, frogs, insects and worms – feeding only five to ten times a year in the wild. They have poor eyesight but an extremely acute sense of smell which they use to locate prey. The sense of smell of the gila monster is so keen that it can accurately follow a trail made by a rolling egg.
They live in burrows, thickets, and under rocks with ready access to moisture. Gila Monsters are solitary and live in desert and semidesert areas. They are inactive much of the time. When spring arrives, gila monsters begin to hunt again. During the summer the lizards only come out in the evening.
Breeding season for Gila monsters is usually early summer. The female digs a hole, lays a clutch of oval-shaped eggs. Four months later, the baby Gila monsters break out of their eggs and crawl to the surface. The Gila monster may live up to 20 years in the wild, or 30 in captivity. This heavy, slow-moving gila monster, is the only venomous lizard native to the United States and one of only two known speciesof venomous lizards in the world, the other being its close relative, the Mexican Beaded Lizard.
The beaded lizard is larger (2-3 feet in length) than the Gila monster (up to 2 feet in length); but has duller coloration with black and yellowish bands. The Mexican beaded lizard’s venom contains enzymes used in manufacturing drugs to treat diabetes. Once again people kill these lizards because of fears and superstitions. The beaded lizard is protected by Mexican law and it dwells within the range of several protected areas.
In 1952, the Gila monster, Heloderma suspectum, became the first venomous animal in North America to be given legal protection; it is illegal to “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect the Gila Monster. Gila monsters are listed as Near Threatened.
Safeguarding against Rattlesnakes is not easily done; but protective measures can be completed. Several of the following steps not only divert venomous but also non-venomous snakes.
1) A rattlesnake proof fence is not cheap but it is one of the best ways to keep snakes out! If you compare it to the cost of emergency medical bills, a snake proof fence is well worth the investment.
The experts recommend your fence be at least 3 feet tall with the bottom section of the fence buried 4 inches or more. Use no more than 1/4″ x 1/4″ construction cloth or you can choose a smooth, solid material. Rattlesnakes are not able to climb on smooth surfaces.
2) Snakes can’t hide well in a short lawn. Mow your lawns and fields around your home.
3) Remove the debris and piles that Rattlesnakes like to call home, such as: wood piles, trimmings and leaves. Always be cautious and on the lookout for snakes while you are cleaning the area.
4) Keep your garbage cans covered. Pick up fruit off the ground to help control the rodents in your yard. Birdseed also attracts small critters that rattlesnakes prey on.
5) Block holes and spaces around the foundation, walls, fence, steps, and under your house where snakes could hide.
6) Keep the area against your fence clear of anything a rattlesnake may use to crawl over.
Some snakes are beneficial to have around your yard. Gopher snakes are very protective of their territory and will deter rattlesnakes from staying around.
Equipped with enzymes to breakdown the poison from snakes, the common KINGSNAKE is immune to viper venom! Kingsnakes kill and eat copperheads, rattlesnakes, and even coral snakes.
Stay calm If you do discover a rattlesnake! Get pets and children indoors immediately. Rattlesnakes only attack in self-defense. The best way to avoid being bitten is to leave the rattlesnake alone. Call a professional snake removal service if you are concerned that the rattlesnake may be taking up residence.
If you need help with a poisonous bite, call your Poison Center immediately. If the bite victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911.
The flowers on the Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise bushes are thriving in the sweltering heat. Vivid energetic colors of this drought tolerant shrub are sure to catch the eye of any passer-by.
This is one of our favorite desert shrubs we recommend to people who want flowering plants that are perennial (you need to plant them only once), hardy, low care, and drought resistant.
With an abundance of fern-like leaves these delightful shrubs can add a tropical perspective to any desert landscape!
Pruning your Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima , should be in late winter or early spring. Use a sharp pair of garden shears. Our Bird of Paradise bushes are pruned about 16 inches from ground level.
Caesalpinia gilliesii, Yellow Bird of Paradise or sometimes called “Desert Bird of Paradise” is a shrub that has been naturalized in Texas.
The signature long red stamens adorn the clusters of charming yellow flowers. Originally from Argentina, this Yellow Bird of Paradise upright shrub is very fast growing.
This long-lived, drought tolerant plant is very durable along with cold and heat tolerant. Exposure to full sun is best! All parts of the bird of paradise plants are toxic. Yellow Bird of Paradise can grow to the height of 10 ft.
Plant your Bird of Paradise in full sun locations. These bushes do fine in any well-drained soil including rocky, native soils.
In the Spring, prune to remove dead or damaged stems. In the summer water your Yellow Bird of Paradise every week. Water it deeply to stimulate a long taproot. Once established the Yellow Bird of Paradise will need less water.
These desert favorites are easy to find, inexpensive, and provide exciting color over and over throughout the year. All Bird of Paradise plants are winners for your Arizona or desert landscape!
The Red Bird of Paradise is a fast grower, and will get large! It is hardy and does well in any soil; but, the better drainage you have the healthier the plant will be.
Bird of Paradise plants look bare during the winter but they always come back strong and healthy! The seeds and bean pods are poisonous so be careful your children and pets don’t eat them.
Red Bird of Paradise is very hardy and drought tolerant once the taproot is established. With a little mulch at the base, they come back year after year.
Many people refer to this red and orange desert bush as the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The actual Mexican Bird of Paradise has all yellow flowersand is larger.
Being native to Mexico, Caesalpinia Mexicana is the real Mexican Bird of Paradise. It is larger with ROUND leaves and can be pruned into a small tree.
Those green bugs that look like leaves are called true katydids. Katydids enjoy all the leafy plants in our front yard. We were so close to this wondrous green bug that we observed its mouth and eyes moving.
The British often call these leaf insects bush crickets. Katydids or bush crickets are in the family Tettigoniidae. They are not grasshoppers, katydids are related to crickets. Grasshoppers have shorter antennae while family member tettigoniids have very long antennae.
Katydids, True Katydids or Northern Katydids are insects that really do not like to fly! To avoid danger they may leap out of a tree and parachute to the ground. Katydids will walk to a vertical surface and start climbing.
The most common color of katydids is leaf green. As a matter of fact, this bug is a master at camouflage with veins on its wings that look just like leaves. Katydids eat flowers, stems and leaves of plants. Some species will even eat other insects.
Many species are commonly found throughout the southern part of the United States. These bush crickets, katydids are most active at night.
True Katydid species come in a variety of sizes from 1 to 4 inches. Their antennae can be two times the length of their body.
Male and female katydid sounds are made by rubbing their wings together to produce a song that is used as part of the courtship. It sounds a bit like your fingernails moving across a comb.
Interesting fact: The Katydid’s hearing organ, tympana, ears, are on their front legs.
click on the short youtube video to hear the sounds of the katydid bugs
The life cycle of the katydid goes through three stages of development:
The katydid egg is laid in the fall and hatches in the spring. It will hatch as a nymph.
The katydid nymph looks like the adult but without wings. It will shed its skin several times as it becomes an adult. The lifespan of the katydid is about 1 year.
You may be the lucky few who get to see the rare pink katydid. The lack of dark pigment, melanin, is the major difference between the pink and the green katydids.
Melanin, is the same pigment that makes a panther black. Like the pink katydid… would the lack of pigment make it similar to a pink panther? No wonder The Pink Panther was bad at hiding; he had no camouflage!
Introducing the dramaticAsparagus densiflorus. Even when southern Arizona reaches temperatures above 100 degrees the asparagus fern thrives! Our desert garden has a subtropical ambience thanks to the ornate asparagus fern. This customary name is somewhat deceiving because the asparagus fern is not a fern at all; but a member of the Liliaceae, or Lily family.
Growing these ferns in containers is easy and low maintenance. This plant develops large tuberous roots and can become potbound in a relatively short period of time. Asparagus Ferns are vigorous, fast growing plants that can take extreme heat as long as it receives regular watering.
To encourage new growth I give our asparagus ferns a trim every so often. In the photo above you will notice several green berries that will turn red by winter. Since these plants are dioecious, not all of your asparagus ferns will grow berries.
What does dioecious mean? Plants that are dioecious have their male and female parts on separate plants. Both male and female plants must be present for pollination to occur. Asparagus Ferns are toxic to cats and dogs. Contact with the skin may cause dermatitis so I recommend wearing gloves.
From a distance, the asparagus fern, Asparagus densiflorus, looks very soft and delicate. This can be attributed to its fine, needle-like leaves. Make no mistake, putting your hands into an asparagus fern will give you little scratches.
Asparagus Fernis native to South Africa and is an evergreen perennial that is commonly used as a groundcover or in hanging baskets for its showy foliage.
An easy way to propagate new Asparagus Ferns is by division. Using a large serrated knife, you can easily divide up the root ball into half or quarter sections for more new plants.
The photo above is one of our potted asparagus ferns that is located in the full Arizona sun. Other containers are nestled in part shade. All of the plants are growing well with my only complaint being I need to plant more!
Yellow needles develop on asparagus ferns for different reasons such as rapid temperature change, under watering, over watering, spider mites and possibly a change in light. Your asparagus fern will need less watering during winter and in low light conditions.
Asparagus ferns can be trained to grow as a vine or cascade down a hanging planter. Note: Sprenger’s Asparagus has been declared a noxious weed in Florida, Hawaii and New Zealand. Listed as a Class One Invasive by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s Pest Plant List (FLEPPC).
We love Asparagus Ferns and have grown them in hot, hot Arizona for years with no behavior problems.
Apple Annie’sis a you pick orchard in Willcox, Arizona. It is about 1 1/2 hours from Tucson through the exhilarating countryside. A must see for travelers or anyone looking for a gladdening family activity. The farm is well marked and easy to find.
This WILLCOX ORCHARD was started in the 1980’s by a husband, wife and their 2 young children. They humbly began with only tasty apples and their famous apple pie.
The start of the Fall season is complete with PUMPKINS of all sizes, shapes and colors that are available for picking at Apple Annie’s HUGE pumpkin patch.
One of the best parts of Apple Annie’sOrchard is that they sell “cider donuts” and your tummy will thank you! If you are adventurous, try a taste of the zesty jalapeno honey mustard, horseradish pickles and other oddly paired condiments.
For anyone traveling to Phoenix or Tucson, AZ the drive to Apple Annie’s Orchard is a great way to spend a relaxing, memorable day in the country. Remember to bring your camera and keep in mind fall days on the farm can be cold in Willcox.
Before planning your trip to Willcox, you can call Annie’s Crop Hotline at 520-384-2084to hear a list of what the farm is currently harvesting.
Children can choose a wheelbarrow or bucket and pick their own vegetables while learning about farming.
For extra thrills make a reservation at the CORN MAZE. Apple Annie’s added 3 levels of difficulty waiting to gobble you up! Halfway through the maze is a high bridge with a great view of the farm; but, it will not give away the solution.
Rest your feet by relaxing on a tractor pulled hay ride in “Farmer John’s truck”. God bless you Apple Annie’s for all your hard work and dedication to the community. Oh and of course the YUMMY home made foods!
“When we planted the first apple trees we asked God for His blessing and guidance in this new venture, but we never envisioned the plans that He had for us! We planned for a commercially harvested crop, but His plans were for us to share our orchard, the farm experience, and the lifestyle that we love, with thousands of families from around the state. We consider it a real privilege to be able to offer an old-fashioned farm experience to today’s busy families!” ~ John and Annie Holcomb
Our Arizona travels brought us not only to a gentle bird refuge; but the historical Fort Lowell Park in Tucson. This wildlife oasis streaming with ducks, cormorants, turtles and dragonflies was an United States Army post from 1873 till 1891.
The most prominent building at Fort Lowell was the hospital, the adobe remnants still stand under a protective structure.
Ft. Lowell lay in ruins for numerous years. The City of Tucson eventually converted the bulk of the former post into Old Fort Lowell Park, which features ball fields, tennis and racquetball courts, a large public swimming pool, and the Fort Lowell Museum dedicated to its days as an active military installation.
**This is a superb choice if you are looking for Tucson activities.
A lane lined with cottonwood trees, aptly named Cottonwood Lane, glorified the area in front of the officer’s houses.
Following World War II, the Fort Lowell area grew into a small village which the predominantly Mexican local residents called El Fuerte.
The Fort Lowell Museum is located in the reconstructed Commanding Officer’s quarters.
Stroll from the remains of the Ft Lowell Hospital towards the wildlife pond to enjoy crestedducks with the latest updos.
Catch a glimpse as a pigeon tries to remember the secret code to get passed the duck security.
Dedicated community members adopted Fort Lowell Park to keep it clean and build a protected area for birds.
During our visit we spoke with some of the impressive volunteers with “Friends of FortLowell Park” as they were planting trees and tidying up the nesting area.
A regal Neotropic Cormorant bird was standing by to make sure we didn’t decide to jump in and go swimming.
Many species of cormorants make a characteristic half-jump as they dive and under water cormorants propel themselves with their feet.
Thanks to the collaboration of The Friends of Fort Lowell Park and Tucson Parks and Recreation for giving residents and guests a place to enjoy outdooractivities and wildlife in the Sonoran Desert.
Local historians have found evidence that Fort Lowell Park sits on a site endowed with a continuous supply of underground water and has been occupied by humans since ancient times.
The Great Blue Heron is sometimes seen flapping casually over the desert. It hunts in typical heron fashion; standing by the water’s edge to skewer fish or clinch other aquatic creatures.
This towering bird is the most common and largest of North American herons. The Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias, is in the family, Ardeidae.
This wading bird is found as far north as the southern Canadian provinces. ** From the southern United States southwards and on the Pacific coast, Great Blue Herons are year round residents.
As a rule, Great Blue Herons feed while standing still or leisurely wading in shallow water; it strikes at small fish swimming by with its spear-like bill.
You will find Great Blue Herons close to bodies of water and routinely nesting in bushes or trees.
These stately herons are expert fishers. Great Blues capture their prey by walking slowly, or standing still for long periods of time and waiting for fish to come within range of their long necks and blade-like bills. Talk about patience!
It is not uncommon for a heron to make a 20 or even 30 mile round trip in its quest for a worthy foraging site.
A Great Blue Heron’s deathblow is delivered with a quick thrust of their sharp bill, and then the prey is swallowed whole. Though these birds are best known as fishers; mice and frogs are also part of their diet.
How tall is a Great Blue Heron? Their height is 3.5 to 4.5 ft (1.2 to 1.4 meters).
What is the Great Blue Heron’s wingspan? Up to 6.7 ft (2 meters).
How fast can the Great Blue Heron Fly? This large heron can cruise at 20-30 miles per hour. (32 to 48 kilometers)
The mature Great Blue Heron has plumes on the lower back at the start of the breeding season.
Below is a short, incredible video of a deer with a Great Blue Heron.
A heron’s bill is dull yellow, becoming orange briefly at the start of the breeding season. Their lower legs which are gray will also become orange at the start of the breedingseason.
Young Great Blue Herons are duller in color, with a blackish-gray crown, and the pattern on the flank only weakly defined; the young herons have no plumes, and the bill is dull gray-yellow.
Great Blue Herons breed in colonies. The male chooses the nest site and displays to attract a female.
Great Blue Herons prefer their nest site in a tree 20 to 60 feet above the ground, although shrubs are sometimes used. The female lays 2 to 7 eggs in a platform made of sticks.
The eggs, which are protected and incubated by both parents, hatch in 25 to 30 days. Herons feed their young regurgitated matter. Chicks can survive on their own by about two months of age.
These dignified birds have exemplary eye sight and that is how they locate their food. Great Blue Herons feed at the water’s edge both day and night; typically dawn and dusk.
The official start date of the Arizona Monsoon season is June 15. In 2008, the National Weather Service determined the AZ Monsoon starting date along with the ending date of September 30.
What causes monsoon?
Traders sailing the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea used the word monsoon to describe a system of alternating winds which blow from the northeast during the northern winter and from the southwest, during the northern summer. Therefore, the term monsoonrefers solely to a seasonalwind shift, and not precipitation.
Arizona happens to be located in the area of the United States that experiences a monsoonal circulation. During the summer months, winds shiftfrom a west or northwest direction to a south or southeasterly direction.
This wind shift allows moisture from the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico to stream into Arizona. A monsoonal circulation produces a radical change in moisture conditions throughout the entire state.
Thunderstorm or cumulonimbus clouds are very familiar during monsoon season. These storm clouds cause lightning, hail and heavy rain.
What Arizona experiences during the summer months is only a small part of a larger circulation that encompasses much of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Thus, it sometimes is also known as the Mexican monsoon. The National Weather Service calls it the North American Monsoon.
This adjustment in wind direction is the result of two meteorological changes:
the movement northward of the huge upper level subtropical high pressure system, known as the Bermuda High,
and the intense heating of the Mohave Desert creating rising air and surface low pressure, called a thermal low
The southerly low-level winds help to bring in moisture from Mexico. When this moisture encounters the higher terrain of Arizonamountain ranges, it gets lifted and forms thunderstorms.
Small driving factors such as: atmosphere interaction, land elevation, soil moisture and vegetation all play a part in what drives the Arizona Monsoon; but it is also why predicting storm intensity is so difficult.
When such high volume rain descends upon the Arizona desert the ground and the surface streets flood. Quite often the rain pools on streets during monsoon storms causing dangerous driving conditions.
The monsoon circulation does not produce thunderstorms every day during the summer months, but rather monsoon storms occur in a pattern known as “bursts” and “breaks”.
This cycle of bursts and breaks will continue from the onset of the monsoon (typically June), until the time when cold fronts begin to move across the state of Arizona (typicallySeptember), which will return our winds to a westerly or northwesterly direction.
We hope you enjoyed this article. Our goal was to make Monsoon Season easier to understand.
Most of us have fantasized while admiring clouds; but have you ever wondered why clouds float? As long as the cloud is warmer than the outside air around it, it will float.
The height of the cloud in the atmosphere depends on the temperature and amount of water vapor of the rising air. For example, drier air has to rise higher to cool enough to start condensation.
Cumulus clouds can grow into cumulonimbus clouds which are larger and often spread out in the shape of an anvil or plume. Cumulonimbus may produce heavy rain, lightning, severe and strong winds, hail, microbursts, and even tornadoes.
Clouds are grouped by their shape and by their height in the atmosphere.
The characteristics of clouds are established by the elements available, including amount of water vapor, temperatures at the height, wind, mountains and other air masses.
The names of clouds come from Latin words that describe their characteristics. The main types of clouds are:
Cirrus means “curl” or “fringe”,
Nimbus means “rain-bearing”,
Stratus means “layer”,
Cumulus means “heap” or “pile”
Cumulus clouds are probably the most recognized clouds. These clouds form below 6,000 feet but in some extreme cases they can be in altitudes as high as 39,000 feet! They look like white, fluffy cotton balls. The reason cumulus appear fluffy is because bubbles of air, called thermals, linger in the cloud.
In mountainous areas, clouds may form lines at an angle to the wind. Wave clouds do not move downwind as clouds usually do, but remain fixed in position relative to the obstruction that forms them, for example: mountains.
Lenticular clouds form on the downwind side of mountains and are lens-shaped. Wind blows most types of clouds across the sky, but lenticular clouds seem to stay in one place.
Strato-cumulus clouds form in altitudes below 6,000 feet. Below photo shows a low layer of strato-cumulus clouds spreading the remains of larger cumulus clouds.
Alto-cumulus clouds differ from Strato-cumulus because they are slightly smaller. One easy way to determine if the cloud is alto-cumulus or strato-cumulus is to hold your hand up to the sky, alto-cumulus clouds are about the size of a human thumb nail while strato-cumulus clouds are the size of a fist.
Stratus clouds belong to the low cloud (surface-2000m, below 6,000 ft) group. They are uniformed layered, gray in color and can cover most or all of the sky.
Stratus clouds can look like a fog and are associated with overcast weather. Only drizzle comes from stratus clouds, if heavier rain falls then their title is changed to nimbostratus.
The most common of the high clouds is Cirrus. These clouds are composed of ice and are thin, curly, wispy, feathery clouds.
Cirrus clouds are usually white and predict fair weather even though they are so cold and composed entirely of ice. They are the fastest moving cloud because the wind current is very strong at that high altitude.
Cumulonimbus clouds belong to the thunderstorm clouds or clouds with verticalgrowth group. Reaching heights to 10km, high winds will flatten the top of a cumulonimbus cloud out into an anvil-like shape.
Cumulonimbus clouds, also called Storm Clouds, cause heavy rain, lightning, hail, snow and tornadoes.
Cumulus clouds, which indicate low-level atmospheric moisture often precede storms. In this picture of a Cumulonimbus cloud or thunderstorm cloud, much lightning was occurring with the winds increasing rapidly.
Mammatus clouds are pouches of clouds that hang underneath the base of a cloud. They are usually seen with cumulonimbus clouds that produce very strong storms.
Mammatus clouds look like a field of tennis balls, melons, or like female breasts. That is where the name comes from.
Cirrostratus clouds form in the 18,000 feet and above. The refraction of light by the ice crystals in the Cirrostratus clouds cause a halo around the sun or moon.
You can not see the halo when this happens but the sun or moon will be less visible because the Cirrostratus clouds condense too much for clear visibility. Clouds are usually white and predict fair weather. These clouds often follow Cirrus clouds therefore Cirrostratus clouds are indicators of good weather.
An essential bird pollinator and seed dispenser for the saguaro cactus plant is the white-winged dove.
The white-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica, is a large grayish brown stout bird with the renowned white stripe on their wings. This bird’s distinctive white wingbars are visible at rest and in flight.
The dove sexes look much the same, but the young white wings have a duller and grayer plumage than adults.
Juvenile white-winged doves have no blue orbital ring and their legs are brighter pinkish red. These young doves also have brown eyes instead of the adult bird red eyes.
Adult white-winged doves have a patch of blue, featherless skin around each crimson red eye.
Adult males and females look-alike; except male doves are larger in size along with an iridescent sheen on their head and neck.
The white-winged males show various dominant behaviors. He may crow around. This means the male dove puffs his chest up and walks around making cooing noises and bobbing his head up and down.
The female white-winged birds don’t usually exhibit this commanding behavior.
White-winged doves feed on a variety of seeds, grains, and cactus fruit. The doves occurring in the Sonoran Desert rely heavily on the pollen, nectar and red fruit of the saguaro cactus, Carnegeia gigantea, for nutrition and water.
In the photos above and below you can plainly see this bird’s white tail tips.
Male doves seek areas with easy access to food and water; they will defend their breeding territories against intruders and competitors.
These tenacious birds can fly 25 or more miles to find water!
Their lifespan in the wild is about 10-15 years. It is routine for white-winged dove pairs and families to stay together for life.
The white-winged dove has a bold white band that appears as a brilliant white crescent when flying.
When the dove’s wings are closed, this area looks like a white bar on the lower edge of the wing.
In the sweltering desert, white-winged doves are able to draw needed moisture from saguaro cactus fruit.
White-winged doves are a familiar sight at Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona. The doves migrate to the desert when the saguaro cactus are blooming. These birds nourish themselves on the buffet of saguaro cactus blossoms and fruit.
Using bean pods to grow your bird of paradise plants is uncomplicated and well worth the effort.
Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Red Bird of Paradise, is a species of flowering plant in the Fabaceae, pea family.
Other common names are Poinciana, Peacock Flower, Mexican Bird of Paradise, Dwarf Poinciana, Pride of Barbados, and flamboyan-de-jardin.
This is especially true for the Red Bird of Paradise bushes, genus Caesalpina, along the roads in Tucson and Phoenix, also common in TX, Mexico and CA.
This drought tolerant plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.
Are the Bird of Paradise Bean Pods edible? NO, all Bird of Paradise plants and bushes are poisonous if ingested.
Bean Pods on the Bird of Paradise bushes and shrubs need toturn brown before you can germinate the seeds. The green bean pods pictured above and below are too young and need more time to dry on the desert plant.
Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima, is native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas and is also the NATIONAL flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, which is why you may hear it called Pride of Barbados.
PLANT AND GROW – How to grow bird of paradise plants, bushes, shrubs from seeds.
To germinate the seeds of your bird of paradise perennial plant first step is to score the hard outer coating. I use sandpaper to lightly scrape the seeds then soak them in warm water for 24-48 hours. They will germinate quickly like most seeds in the bean, Legumefamily, do.
To grow your Red Bird of Paradise, plant the soaked seed in peat pots. Cover the seeds lightly with damp vermiculite or a good soil.
You should have bird of paradise seedlings in a few days to a week depending on how hard the outer coat of the seeds are.
Bird of Paradise seeds need at least 8 hours of sun, but not direct sun it will be too hot! You can start to give them a little more direct sun after the first leaves appear.
Peat Pots are great and make growing and transplanting your Mexican, Yellow or Red Bird of Paradise seedlings much easier.
Start your seeds indoors and when you are ready to plant your Bird of Paradise just put the entire pot in the ground. Roots will penetrate the peat pot and the pot disintegrates enriching the soil.
The Red Bird of Paradise is a deciduous (loses its leaves) shrub that thrives in full sun and has brightred and orange flowers that grow on long, thin stalks. The leaves are lacy, ferny-looking.
This is an extraordinarily heat resistant, drought tolerant flowering bush that is a perfect addition to any yard. The Red Bird of Paradise is a fairly fast grower, and can get large, so periodic trimming is suggested. See the photo above of large flowering bushes commonly seen along the streets in Tucson and Phoenix Arizona along with Texas and California.
Tarantula hawks,aka – pepsis wasps, are impressive with bright orange wings on a large velvety black body. They feed on nectar from flowers but are most famous for their battles with tarantulas !! The fearlesstarantula hawk female that is ready to reproduce searches for a tarantula burrow…
This tenacious pepsis wasp will tap and strum the web at the burrow entrance trying to coax the tarantula out. If the tarantula responds, a long battle will begin!
Most often the tarantula hawk wins by delivering a paralyzing sting to the tarantula. The paralyzed tarantula is dragged to a pre-dug burrow and dropped in by the large female wasp.
The tarantula hawk then lays a single egg on the paralyzed tarantula and leaves. The wasp larva will hatch and feed on the tarantula spider. After completing its metamorphosis, inabout 3 weeks, the adult pepsis wasp will then dig its way out of the underground burrow and start its life cycle anew.
Tarantula Hawks, have the second most painful sting of any insect. Just how painful is the sting of the Tarantula Hawk? The Schmidt Sting Pain Indexrates insect stings from 1-4. Africanized bees and hornets register 2. Bullent Ants and Pepsis wasps register 4 !!
Only the female Tarantula Hawk stings because the stinger is derived from the ovipositor, the egg-laying organ.
In the deserts of the southwestern US two species of Tarantula Hawks are common, pepsis formosa and pepsis thisbe. The most common in Arizona is pepsis formosa wasp with the orange wings.
Hundreds of Tarantula Hawk Wasp species exist worldwide. The color of the wings may very from species but the sting of the this killer wasp is described as blinding, fierce, and shockingly electric. Simply unbearable pain, lasting 3 minutes. A long 3 minutes! Not lethal to humans unless you are allergic to pepsis wasps.
How to tell the difference between the male and female pepsis wasp?
The antennae of the male tarantula hawk is tightlycurved while the FEMALE wasp is only SLIGHTLY curved.
Tarantula Hawk females grow larger than the males, and can reach up to 3 inches in length.
This youtube video is a battle between the Tarantula Hawk and Tarantula Spider.
Both female and male pepsis wasps are nectarivorous. The male does not hunt but fills himself with the nectar of plants while watching for female tarantula hawks that are ready to reproduce.
Other than Roadrunners and Bullfrogs, most predators avoid the Tarantula Hawk wasp.