Tarantula Hawk Wasp

Giant Desert Scorpion

Monarch Butterfly

Melissa Blue Butterfly

Western Black Widow


Fingernail Clam

Painted Lady butterfly

Western Tiger Swallowtail

The Leopard Frog

California Sister Butterfly

Jerusalem Cricket

Praying mantis

Lady bird beetle

Velvet Ant



Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico           Page Author: Jon Leder


Species common name(s): Giant Desert Scorpion

Scientific Name: Hadrurus arizonensis



 Range: All through New Mexico around flat plains and areas around sand deserts.


Habitat: In arid regions around open desert floors and desert washes


Physical Description: The largest of the desert scorpions with adults reaching around 14cm (5 ½ in) These scorpions have a yellowish brown with shades of brown. The body segments normaly have yellow ribs around the body segments. The main reason it is called the hairy scorpion is it has thick brown hairs around the legs and tail to sense movement.


Main foods: The scorpions main diet consits of small soft-bodied insects.

Behavior: It hides during the day to aviod the heat, and then comes out at night to feed. 

Niche: The scorpions help to keep spider and insect populations down.

Interactions with other species: The scorpions don’t have many predators other than getting caught in a black widows web,


Threats to the species:  Habitat destruction due to housing developments. Also some people are collecting and selling the scorpions for pets.



Scorpions and Venomous Insects of the Southwest ,Erik D. Stoops & Jeffery L. Martin.

Picture from: http://www.bugsincyberspace.com/scorpions/hadrurus_arizonensis.html


Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico                      Page Author: Jessica Whittington


Species common name(s): Monarch butterfly

Scientific Name: Danaus plexipus


 Range: This is a common species throughout the Northern America and throughout northern New Mexico.


Habitat: In warmer areas where milkweed grows wich is what these butteflies eat andlay there eggs on there.  Milkweeds grow in northern New Mexico.


Physical Description: Monarchs as a catterpilars yellow, black, white and orange striped. Their cacoons are light green. As an adult Monarchs are black, white, and mostly orange.  The males have to brown dots on either side of there hind wings.  The average wingspan is 3.5-3.9”


Main foods: when they are catepillars they eat milkweed leaves.  When they are adult butterflies they drink the necter from trees.

Behavior: Duhring the summer the Monarchs live in Northern America and Southern Canada.  In the fall they migrate down to Mexico and California.  When they return in the summer they mate with large colorful males and lay there eggs  on the sweetest plant.

Niche: They use trees for shelter and Milkweeds for food and nesting. They pollinate flowers. They breed and mate.

Interactions with other species:  They interact with milkweed beetles and other beetles and insects that are immune to the poisens and sap of the milkweeds also interact with the weed beetle.


Threats to the species:  The monarchs are eaten Bluejays andfew other birds.  Beetles and other insects eattheir eggs on the milkweed.







 Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico          Page Author: Liz Zeni


Species common name(s): Tarantula Hawk Wasp

Scientific Name: Pepsis formosa


 Range: They are New Mexico’s State Insect, and they inhabit much of the southwest. They are basically found wherever tarantulas are.


Habitat: The desert. They are basically wherever tarantulas are.


Physical Description: Most have bright blue-black bodies with orangish or mahogany colored wings and they are about  two inches (40mm) long.


Main foods: The wasps are "nectivorous," and they have been known to become "flight-challenged" after consuming fermented fruit. The larvae also eat the tarantula’s juice.

Behavior: They are most active in the summer, during the day. Their life basically consists of finding a host (tarantula) and killing it, then laying eggs on the parlyzed tarantula, and that’s about it. They also mate but the females are the more dominant.

Niche: Tarantula wasps are unusual in the severity of their stings. Generally, it is the more social insects that deliver the most painful stings because they have a large nest to defend. Researchers say that the tarantula hawk wasps have such painful stings because they spend so much time out in the open, exposed to potential predators. They take care of overpopulation of tarantulas.

Interactions with other species: They are parasitoids, so they kill their host. They also go into tarantula burrow and usually kill the tarantula. Only a few animals, such as roadrunners, eat tarantula hawks.


Threats to the species: There are no real threats to this species because it has such a hurtful sting that people really don’t like to come in contact with them, and other animals don’t want to either because the sting hurts so bad.  


Sources: http://www.desertusa.com/mag01/sep/papr/thawk.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarantula_hawk,


Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico           Page Author: Rebekah Ballengee


Species common name(s): Melissa Blue

Scientific Name: Lycaeides melissa



 Range: They range through out most of New Mexico. They are found in the western part of the US, but also found in New York, New Hampshire, and west to Wisconsin.


Habitat: They are found in different types of habitat from disturbed areas, pine forest, prairies, weedy areas, and mountain meadows.


Physical Description: The female has a hint of blue with a brown base color. The male has the blue with a dark narrow border of black. The male is smaller than the female. The female size is somewhere between 1.4 cm to 1.6 cm and the males range is about 1.2 cm to 1.4 cm. So over all their size is from 2.2 to 3.5 cm.


Main foods: They feed on fifty or more kinds of flowers. The species of flowers they choose the most includes Rock cress, Euphorbia corollata, sweet clover, and showy goldenrod, just to name a few.

Behavior: They are usually out from early morning to early evening. They rest of the time they are in the shade when the temperature gets too hot. With strong winds, heavy rains, and temperature below 75° they will find a place that is well sheltered. Femals don’t fly as much as the males do. Females eat more than they fly. They prefer forest habitat in sunny openings.

Niche: Like most other butterflies they are pollinators. They help protect the area around them by their retoration and habitat management.

Interactions with other species: Their predators are primarily insects like some wasps, ants, stink bugs, spiders, dragonflies, and robber flies. The Melissa blue has some type of anti-predator defense against birds or mice. Toxins or noxious taste or smell, aren’t tolerated by vertebrates, like birds or mice. 


Threats to the species:  If we keep overtaking the mountains and the open fields we wouldn’t have the beauty of butterflies roaming around, especially the Melissa blue, because they would not have a good habitat to like in. When people use insecticides thus also kills them off.


Source: http://www.michigan.gov/images/karner_blue_53419_7.jpg ; http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/lepid/bflyusa/nm/252.htm ;


Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico          


Page Author: Katie Rinehimer


Species common name(s): Western Black Widow

Scientific Name: Latrodectus hesperus


 Range: The Western Black Widow lives in most of New Mexico. Though they cannot live at very high altitudes, such as that of the mountainous areas of the state, so they are more commonly found in the ‘destertous’ areas.


Habitat:  Their habitat can be found on the underside of ledges, rocks, plants and other debris, or just simply wherever a web can be strung. Cold weather and drought may drive them into buildings to seek improved living conditions.


Physical Description: The female is a shiny black, most commonly with a reddish hourglass-looking shape on the underside of the abdomen, which is spherical in shape. The body is about 1 and one half inch long. The adult males are harmless, and are about half the female's size, with smaller bodies, longer legs and usually have yellow and red bands and/or spots over the back as do the immature stages. The newly hatched “spider lings” are usually white or yellowish-white, but they do not stay that way, gradually losing the white and yellow and acquiring more black and varying amounts of red and white with each “molt” or maturing stage in which hair is lost. Both the immature male and female resemble the adult male and are harmless.


Main foods: The Western Black Widow, as with most common spiders, preys on insects. Prey is caught in their finely woven webs, and then the Black Widow makes small puncture wounds, sucking the blood from its victim.

Behavior: Western Black Widows spin webs that really don’t have much shape and form. The silk of their webs is stronger than almost all other arachnids. The black widow spider is shy and nocturnal in most habits, usually staying hidden in its web, hanging belly up. Although they are not aggressive, but they may rush out and bite when their web is disturbed or when they are accidentally trapped in clothing or shoes.

Niche: The Niche of the Black Widow Spider is to help keep the population of insects and bugs down.

Interactions with other species: The Black Widow interacts with insects, especially, because they are its main source of food. They also interact with humans quite often, mostly because people will accidentally step or run into their webs, and the Black Widow will react by biting, and poison is transferred from host to victim.


Threats to the species: Many people fear Black Widow Spiders because of their poison or simply because they look scary. So, they are often killed whenever they are seen, sometimes by pesticides, poison, or by simply being crushed.



Enviormental Science Field Guide                            Page Author:Ryan Rembold

Common Speices Name:Dobsonfly

Specific Name:Corydalus cornutus 





Habitat: Dobsonflys are aquatic creatures for most of their lives and therefore live in streams creeks and other areas of shallow water. In these areas they tend to live under rocks and logs as they are nocturnal creatures.  The adults live short lives and travel to find places to lay new eggs before they die.


Physical Description: The larava grow to be about 7 cm in length before the become adults. They are yellow to brown in color and have segmented bodies so as they resemble a catipillar. The adults are red to grey brown and have wings that have many obvious viens in them. They also have large pinchers.


Main foods: The larva eat young aquatic insects and small fish later in their development. The adults do not eat anything as far as those in captivity or in view in the wild have shown.

Behavior: Dobsonflys are nocturnal creatures that show very little activity during the day. Past that they are also very aggressive creatures and are even know to kill each other for territorial violations.

Niche: The Dobsonfly is eaten in its lava form by bass and in its adult form by birds. Though it has mighty pinchers it still falls prey to predators of all types.

Interactions with other species: The Dobsonfly is very aggressive and will attack anything with its pinchers if it feels even slightly threatened by another creature’s presence.


Threats to the species: Although it can tolerate some pollution it is a dangerous threat to the Dobsonfly still. Also if there habitat dries up from the steam being blocked or diverted is a big threat to these fiendish insects.







Fingernail Clam (family Sphaeriidae) (Sphaerium sp.)




Range: Small populations exist throughout the state, in gently running streams or small lakes. Therefore, they are potentially found anywhere in NM.


Habitat: Ponds, streams, and small lakes. They spend their lives on the muddy bottom of all these locations.


Physical Description: Small, roughly the size of a fingernail. They are usually symmetrical, and have a hard shell covering their bodies, which are often light brown or yellowish in color.


Main foods: They are filter feeders, sucking nutrients out of the water.

Behavior: The fingernail clams typically live a short life, usually 1 year long, before they die. Their pastimes include slowly moving around with their extendable “foot”, attempting to find better feeding grounds, and have live offspring in the summer. They are hermaphroditic, and reproduce by themselves.

Niche: When they are feeding, they are essentially cleaning the water, so they keep their enviornments fresh.

Interactions with other species: Virtually none. They are primarily eaten by various birds.


Threats to the species: Some species are recognized by the states of NM as being threatened. Numerous species are very susceptible to changes in the water, and are therefore easily killed.


Sources: http://www.fw.vt.edu/fishex/nmex_main/species/060080.htm


Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico         Page Author: Hanna Livoti

Species common name(s): Painted Lady

Scientific Name: Vanessa cardui              

 Range: The Painted Lady lives pretty much every where except for in South America, Australia and the Arctic.   


Habitat: The Painted Lady likes bright, open places like meadows, fields and dunes. 


Physical Description: Painted Ladys are black, brown and orange with white spots. The undersides of the painted ladies are mostly gray with white and red markings and  the adult’s wing span is 2- 2 7/8 inches.


Main foods: The Painted Lady eats plants such as; thistles, burdocks and groundset.


Behavior: The Painted Ladies living in North America migrate to Mexico and those living in North Europe migrate to South Europe or North Africa.     


Niche: the Painted Ladies help to pollinate flowers such as; Pussytoes, Black-Eyed Susans and Sun flowers. 


Interactions with other species: Painted ladies pollinate different plant species. Painted Ladies are eaten by; birds, Dragonflies, and Mantids.    


Threats to the species: Possible threats to the painted ladies might include: habitat destruction and pesticides.     


Source: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Vanessa_cardui.html


http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/StratfordLandingES/Ecology/mpages/painted_lady.htm//www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/components/DG6711c.htmll http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/bc/threats/

Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico  Page Author: Morganne Saitta


Species common name(s): Western Tiger Swallowtail

Scientific Name: Papilio rutulus

butterfly image                    

 Range: The western tiger swallowtail is found throughout western North America, from eastern British Columbia to eastern North Dakota, southern Baja, California and Southern New Mexico. Sometimes they will be found in central Nebraska.


Habitat: These butterflies are found near wooded areas and streams or rivers. You will also see them near parks, wooded residential areas, canyons and mesas with creeks. The western tiger swallowtail will also be seen at higher elevations which relates to some areas of New Mexico.  This butterfly usually takes over any water available before other butteflies can get there.


Physical Description: The butterflies wings are black and pale yellow with tiger stripes going down the wings. Their hind wings have tails at the tips and near the wing’s margin there are narrow yellow spots and some with tints of orange. There is a row of blue spots found near the outer margin of the hind wing. On the outsides of both wings there are yellow sports bordered with black that outline them. The antennae of the adult butterflies are knobbed but don’t form a hook.


Main foods: While in the stage of a caterpillar, they feed on cottonwood, willow, alder, maple, sycamore, hoptree, plum and ash trees. Once they form into an adult, they feed on the nectar from flowers that produce it. Some include: abelia, California buckeye, zinnia, and yerba santa.

Behavior: Western tiger swallowtails fly from June to July if they live in mountainous areas. Male butteflies spend their time searching for mates and the females lay eggs on the leaves of larval plants which are plants that are used as food for the caterpillar.

Niche: Western tiger swallowtails depend on pollinators because they feed on the nectar produced by plants. The pollinators include flowers.

Interactions with other species: Butterflies are needed by humans. They help maintain the balance of nature and health of the living world. They pollinate other plants and crops which allows the plants to continue living. They also provide to the ecosystem’s health. The western tiger swallowtail is also a source of food for songbirds.


Threats to the species:  Butterflies are mainly affected by the acts of humans. Habitat destruction is one of the main causes. Forests are being destroyed and industries are polluting the air and other natural resources that the butterflies need in order to survive.


Source: http://mamba.bio.uci.edu/~pjbryant/biodiv/lepidopt/papilio/tiger.htm



Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico     Page Author: Anita Salazar

Species Name- California Sister Butterfly

Scientific Name:  Adelpha bredowii californica


 Range map










Range-  The California Sister Butterfly can be found in many of the southwestern part of the united states. From the south part of Oregon to northern New Mexico.


Habitat- The California sister often lives in oak-covered hills, groves and stream valleys.


Behavior- California sisters like other butterflies are very mellow and do not like very much interaction, but are very independent.


Physical description- California Sister butterflies are somewhat large butterflies. They are 2 3/8  inches to 3 ½  inches. They have orange patches near the tips of their wings with a white median running down the center with dark brown to black exterior wings.


Food- The California sister mostly feeds on honey dew. They are attracted to areas where grape juice has spilled or is made easily accessible.

Interaction with other species-  they don’t have much interaction with other species but may interact with their own.

Species threat- one major threat of these animals is the destruction of their habitats, however there may be more.


Sources:  http://www.sdnhm.org/fieldguide/inverts/californiasister.html



 Page author: Ms. Magz Gronewald


Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico               


Species common name(s): Jerusalem Cricket, Potato Bug, Sand Cricket, Nina de la tierra

Scientific Name: Stenopelmatus fuscus

 [Photo of Jerusalem Cricket.]

 Range: Jerusalem crickets are found throughout the western United States, along the Pacific Coast, and south into Mexico.

Habitat: Jerusalem crickets can be found under rocks and in sandy soils throughout the western half of the United States, and from British Columbia to Panama.

Physical Description: The Jerusalem cricket is a  black-and-orange-banded, modified sand cricket and is one of the most distinctive-looking creatures found anywhere. Adults can reach up to 2 inches long (30-50 mm).

Main foods: The Jerusalem cricket feeds at night on roots, tubers, and decomposing organic matter.

Behavior: The Jerusalem cricket spends most of its life underground. Its large head supports the necessary muscles that assist the jaws in digging in the soil and feeding on living and dead plant materials. Like most crickets, this insect also produces sound, called drumming, by hitting its spiny legs against its body. This nocturnal cricket is non-aggressive and possesses no poison glands, but its jaws can inflict a painful bite.

Niche: Jerusalem crickets were once thought to be rare and insignificant but over time scientists have figured out that they are a vital part of many ecosystems. They give life to the night, forming the foundation of food chains across California. While underground, where the crickets spend most of their lives, they gnaw at plant roots and dead animals, helping to aerate soils and recycle nutrients.


Interactions with other species: Bats, skunks, and foxes are among the many nocturnal animals that eat the Jerusalem cricket.

Threats to the species: Their numbers are kept in check by birds and rodent predators, fly and worm parasites, curious cats and gardeners' hoses. They also get killed off often due to poisonous pesticides.


Source:  http://www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca/search/speciesDetails_e.cfm?SpeciesID=622

Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico

Page Author: James Broomfield


Species common name(s): Praying mantis

Scientific Name: Tenodera aridifolia sinensis












Range: The praying mantises, as a species, live all over New Mexico; anywhere where there is a constant supply of water.  They live in all but the southern deserts, because they need a certain supply of moisture in the air or they die.


Habitat: The brownish mantises live in the Southern parts of New Mexico, mostly were the plains are, and the green mantises live in mostly the Northern parts, where the forests and mountains are.  The green mantises also require a bit more humidity.


Physical Description: The body is light brown or deep green with the forewing's outer edges a light greenish color. The forelegs are modified to close like a knife blade back against its handle (pocket knife-like). Prey is held securely between these serrated, spiny forelegs.


Main foods: They eat all the matter of insects: basically anything with a body their size or smaller that is not heavily armored or poisonous.  They will even eat other mantises that stray across their path.  Praying mantises have also been known to eat small birds, like hummingbirds, and reptiles, like baby snakes and small lizards.


Behavior: The praying mantis is a dangerous, carnivorous creature, which deceives its prey by taking up a humble stance.  Its two front legs are bent downward, as if the bug is praying, but lining the inside of its claws are rows and rows of sharp hooks which it uses to hold its prey.  When mating, the female will fight with the male for several hours.  Once the ritual battle is over, the male can have intercourse with the female.  Many males are either killed or injured to the point they cannot mount the female after the battle.  After they male has finished with the female, the female kills and eats the weakened female.


Niche: It eats other insects, small birds, and small reptiles.  It keeps the populations of many insects down to reasonable levels.


Interactions with other species: The praying mantis is worshipped by many people as a divine spirit or token that can guide people.  It is also a good luck charm, and a messenger of certain gods, or Buddha.  The praying mantis interacts with many insect species, and is a threat to many species of insects, small birds, and small insects


Threats to the species: Insecticide has threatened to kill off the species in areas where farming is done, which will cause certain insects to not be hunted and therefore start damaging the crops that the farmers are trying to protect.  Also, some of the more colorful mantises are being collected by certain people for, you guessed it, collections!  It is the same thing as the scarab incidents.



·        http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~abrams/mantis.html

·        http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2154.html


Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico Page Author: Casey Klaus


Name of Species: Ladybug, Ladybird beetle


Scientific Name: Coccinelidae convergens



Range: They populate all of North America


Habitat: Both the adults and larvae live on plants that have a lot of aphids living on them. Some plants are roses, oleander, milkweed and broccoli.

Characteristics: They adults are oval, brightly red colored. The head is small and turned downward, and they have short legs. Also the convergent Ladybug has 6 black spots on each wing.

Food:  They eat aphids and other plant eating insects, like scales and mites.


Behavior: As a defense, ladybug adults will fall to the ground and "play dead." They also can secrete an amber bad tasting fluid from the joints in their legs. In the winter, the adults hibernate in large groups. Normally they hibernate in mountains at high elevations. The female beetle lays eggs only where she knows aphids are present


Niche: They eat a lot of aphids, this helps plants, but they also damage plants themselves.


Interactions with other Species: They eat mainly aphids. They are eaten by birds.


Threats to Species: The main predator of ladybugs is birds. But they are also killed by humans, accidentally. They also have pesticides that kill them.







Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico           Page Author: Jacob Retzer


Species common name(s): Velvet Ant

Image PreviewScientific Name: Dasymutilla occidentalis


 Range: The velvet ant is found throughout the United States, including California, Utah, Texas and Mexico.


Habitat: This insect lives in all parts of a desert. The temperatures can be either hot and dry or can be found in semiarid areas to shrub lands.


Physical Description: The velvet ant measures from 1/8 of an inch to one inch. The size varies with the different types of species. Their hair can be red, white, orange, yellow, or black. The males have two pairs of black transparent wings with no stinger and the female has a stinger with no wings.


Main foods: The ant drinks water and uses nectar from plants as their source of food. They also eat ground nesting bees and wasps.

Behavior: Velvet ants are active during the entire day. When the temperatures are too high, they retreat and burrow under debris or hide in plants. They are usually active from April through November, but it depends on the local climate in that specific area.

Niche: The velvet ants airates the soil and will also break through the nest walls of the ground nesting wasps or bees. They may also move organic plant matter.

Interactions with other species: The female velvet ants finds bumble bee nests and lays her eggs inside the wax cups. Once the bees or wasps have formed into cocoons, the adult female enters the host nest by digging through the soil or breaking through the nest walls.


Threats to the species:  Pesticides harm the velvet ants environment and also reduce the population because the ants die.





Source: http://www.desertusa.com/mag01/feb/papr/ant.html