With the summer monsoons bringing much-needed rain to the Old Pueblo, calls and identification requests are pouring into the University of Arizona Department of Entomology.
"And that's not surprising," said Gene Hall, who oversees the University of Arizona Insect Collection and provides insect and other arthropod identifications as part of the Cooperative Extension's Insect Diagnostics Clinic. "This is one of the first summers in probably three years that we've had a lot of good rain, and that means our bugs are out in big numbers."
Arizona is home to one of the most biologically diverse populations of insects in the country, according to Hall. In the university's 2 million-specimen collection, more than 20,000 species are from the Sonoran Desert.
"We're just fortunate to live in this area where we've got all this diversity and insect species that call southern Arizona home," said Hall. "A lot of people make the pilgrimage here during the summertime to look for certain insects, like the Rhinoceros Beetle or the Jewel Beetle, that can be found in the Sky Islands around Tucson. It's like bird-watching, but with bugs."
Summers are a smorgasbord of insect activity in Arizona. Buzzing cicadas are a familiar sound leading up to the monsoon season. When rains arrive, beetles burrow out of the soil to mate, winged ants and termites swoon and swarm in their own nuptial flights, and a flurry of other critters look to feast on the party.
As the rains bring out the bugs, Hall encourages folks to enjoy the show.
"These insects and other arthropods are not out to get anybody. They're just doing their thing and we're the ones that kind of end up crossing their path," he said.
While some of the more common bugs such as cockroaches, mosquitos, harvester ants and scorpions may be out in bigger numbers with the increase in precipitation, Hall breaks down some of the more unique critters you might also see make an appearance this monsoon.