Sunday, August 10, 2008
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
On an evening hike last night at the Phoenix South Mountain Preserve we encountered many, many very hungry caterpillars. I haven't been able to figure out what kind of moth or butterfly they will turn into, but I have a suspicion that it is a Hawk Moth caterpillar. It was quite a site to see all these hungry fellows moving around the muted desert floor. They dotted the landscape with their neon colors.
It's amazing how quickly one can escape the feeling of being in the city, when natural open space is nearby. Just a few minutes into the hike and the sounds of the city started to disappear. We started to feel a cool desert breeze and smell the creosote. On our return back to the car, we heard the happy yipping sounds of a group of coyotes down in the wash. We had intended to move in their direction, but chose to take the high road instead. As we turned toward the trail, I noticed a very large shadow creeping behind us. Funnily, my first reaction was to growl very loudly and throw a stone; while contemplating whether there were mountain lions on South Mountain. Naw! When I slightly regained my senses, I tried to figure out what this strange silhouette belonged to...from the best I can tell it was a very large Javelina, trying to escape the pack of coyotes...we blew his cover! Hopefully, after wondering what these strange humans were doing, and laughing to himself, he managed to escape the coyotes after all.
So, we made it back to the car, but the whole way back I looked behind me to make sure there were no more strange shadows lurking in the dark. Despite my own fears, I am sure the other animals were just as confused or scared...these crazy humans.