October 18, 2011
This month, a team of entomologists visited the Northern Jaguar Reserve. Charles O’Brien, Robert Jones, Jens Prena, Alejandro Obregón, and Fred Skillman spent five days and nights studying insects on the reserve and in the surrounding areas. They also made stops on the roads between Hermosillo-Sahuaripa and Sahuaripa-Moctezuma. They were focused on beetles (Coleoptera), but they didn’t let the opportunity pass to collect other insects as well. These scientists are very interested in the beetles commonly called weevils. Charles says that these beetles are not well known in this part of Mexico and that they are of agricultural importance because some species are pests to crops. So, this entomological research is important to gain insect knowledge for the reserve and this part of Sonora. For the two of us personally, their visit represented an opportunity to remember how to work with insects, because it had been since university, a long time!
The rains continue, not abundant overall but there were days with significant rain. And with the rain, all of the landscape is green – except those plants that were severely damaged by the frost waves that occurred last February. Many tropical plants died, and the survivors are beginning to sprout new growth at the base of their trunks. Vinorama (Acacia cochliacantha) and torotas trees (Bursera sp.) were the species most affected by frost. If there is not enough rain in the winter season, next spring-summer could be difficult for wildlife and cattle ranchers possibly with a severe drought.
As every year, along with the especially green country also come some little unpleasant animals: baiburines. The baiburines attacked our legs causing a terrible itching for several days. The “baiburin” is the local common name for a mite; chigger is the English common name. Eutrombicula is the scientific name of the genus, and they are found in many temperate and tropical parts of the world. Most of their lifecycle is spent among the remains of vegetation on which they feed, but while they are in the larval stage, they act as microscopic parasites of reptiles, birds, and mammals. In humans, and it varies from person to person, each bite generates an intense allergic reaction that manifests as a rash within a few hours. When we are walking in the dense green vegetation or are finding shade from the summer sun underneath leafy trees, we never see these mites and then you can imagine the rest… The larval stage occurs only in late July, August, and early September, months when the ambient humidity is very high and the temperature is hot. We hope not to see them again, or rather feel the itching that they cause, for a long time.
We plan to see jaguars again in next month’s camera review, since this time the road was impassable in Arroyo Babisal and we could not reach the cameras at Dubaral and Los Pavos. The good news is that many of the cameras we did review were still active with remaining charge in their batteries, so we are confident that the others will last a few weeks more. As always, we did have many pictures of other animals: deer, javelina, pumas, ocelots, bobcats, and other inhabitants of the reserve.
We were able to dedicate some time to explore Rancho Las Tésotas, the newest addition to the reserve – which now constitutes a total area of more than 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) without human activity, except ours. We already were acquainted with Las Tésotas, since we were putting cameras there when the ranch was part of the Viviendo con Felinos program, but this time we felt more freedom to walk around the ranch… as if we were now at home. Surely, wildlife will also begin to feel at home here very soon.
That is all for now folks; we’re back to the field and then will have new things to share with you.
– Carmina & Miguel
Our jaguar guardians, Carmina Gutiérrez and Miguel Gómez Ramírez, have worked at the Northern Jaguar Reserve since October 2008. As the reserve’s resident biologists, Carmina and Miguel patrol lands to keep out poachers, sustain ongoing management of the reserve, maintain a network of motion-triggered cameras, and inventory the ecological health of reserve lands and waters.