The morning started at 5:15 AM with my traditional two packets of oatmeal mixed into a cup of green tea from the Keurig coffee brewer. It tasted exactly like it did every morning last year. I hadn’t missed it at all… We were packed and on the road by 7.
Jim Melli, who always leads a spectacular trip, led Border Bugs 2013. Our travel was focused in the Pajarito Wilderness Area. Its proximity to Mexico, rugged topography and complex biogeography create a rich mix of habitats including woodlands, grasslands, dry rocky slopes, and a beautiful riparian area, rich in aquatic insects.
One of the goals was to photograph and collect a number of sunburst diving beetles, Thermonectus marmoratus. Interestingly, the aquatic larvae of this visually stunning beetle has two retinas and two distant focal planes that allow for rapid vision change from up-close to distance, for quick, efficient capture mosquito larvae. It is the only known animal species to use natural bifocal technology. I was pleased to get some fairly good pictures of aquatic insects, including Thermonectus.
The hot dry weather resulted in fewer arthropods than we’ve seen in the past, but that was certainly made up by the amphibians and reptiles we encountered. As usual, we stopped at a superb Mexican restaurant on the way back to the hotel, arriving around 11:30 PM.
I’ll post a lot of pictures and further descriptions of the species we encountered over the next several weeks. Pretty tired right now…