Things with Wings, but No Birds

By Dan Weisz

Many winged insects are out and about now that summer has arrived. Here is an assortment of recent ones I’ve come across:

A Blue-Eyed Darner hovers in the reeds at Sweetwater Wetlands. These large dragonflies are common throughout the southwest.

This juvenile Blue Dasher is about half the size of the Blue-eyed Darner above. Its brown eyes tell us it is a juvenile. Those eyes will turn green/blue as an adult.

This Red Rock Skimmer was seen at Madera Canyon. This rusty colored dragonfly likes to perch on rocks in streams. Dragonflies, when perched, keep their four wings at their sides or slightly in front of them as in the photo above.

Damselflies, on the other hand, fold their wings behind them when they land. This Springwater Dancer was also seen in Madera Canyon.

At Sweetwater Wetlands, I first thought I was looking at an interesting butterfly. Upon closer inspection, I realized I was looking at two Marine Blue Butterflies mating. These are very small butterflies with a wingspan of only about one inch.

One of the signs of summer in Tucson is when the Cicadas come out as soon as our days get HOT. This Cicada first landed on the sunlit side of this rebar but, as soon as I lifted my camera, it swung around to the shady side of the rebar. Seemed like the smart thing to do. For more on our local cicadas, read

There were a number of butterflies at Tohono Chul Park this morning. A Texas Crescent was enjoying the nectar of these red flowers.

The Southern Dogface is a yellow/pale green butterfly. Its color looks dull against this bright Mexican Sunflower.

Below are two different butterflies that are often mixed up. The one just below is a Queen Butterfly on a Gregg’s Mist Flower. Many people mistake these for Monarch Butterflies, but Queens are smaller than Monarchs and have white dots in the middle of their wings.

The butterfly below is a Monarch Butterfly. While it sips from this Mexican Sunflower, you can see how “clean” the orange panels are on its wings. There are no white spots in the middle of the wings as in the Queen above. You can see a comparison chart of the two butterflies at this Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center link:

Keep your eyes out this summer. These insects may not sit still but they will pass by you one day soon.

Return to Foothills Clusters Home