Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Birdwatching in Arizona, Part 2: It's raining caterpillars.

We made a stop in the San Pedro Riparian Area one morning. It was an oasis in the desert, and, I recently learned, a beautiful place in danger of being developed. The habitat outside the river was grassland/scrubland but the area immediately surrounding the water was lush with trees and large bushes. It was so pretty. We decided to hang out by the water for awhile to bird watch and gaze at  the water. It was while we walked along the bank that I noticed the tent caterpillars, LOTS of them. The longer we walked, the more caterpillars we noticed. They were EVERYWHERE. On the ground, tree trunks, in shrubs and yes, falling from the sky (well from tree branches).

While walking, I noticed tiny dark brown specks on the ground. Initially I thought the specks were just part of the composition of the soil, but when we sat down, I discovered the flecks were actually caterpillar frass (frass is a fancy word for poop). The frass was almost as abundant as the caterpillars. When we sat down, the caterpillars commenced crawling on our legs, hands and my backpack. Later in the day Trillium found a caterpillar in her pants.

It was hard to find a place to sit with all the frass laying around.

 You never know what else you're going to find while bird watching.


  1. A new name for poop!? You notice everything :)

  2. Michaele, it was hard to miss all of the poop. It was so big, and abundant! But then again, being outside is like being on a treasure hunt; I'm always looking.