Insects, Spiders, Centipedes, Millipedes
Photo by Hank Schoch
Insects are everywhere in Colorado National Monument. But depending on the season, the elevation, the weather, and even the time of day, visitors may see hundreds or only a few insects.
At lower elevations and in the canyon bottoms, insect numbers and diversity are highest in spring when the desert flowers bloom. A wet spring will have not only more flowers but many more insects than a dry one. Another peak in numbers is reached in early fall when the rabbitbrush puts forth its many golden flowers. In the pinyon-juniper forest, insect numbers gradually increase and probably reach their peak in late summer.
Some insects, like moths, tend to be common throughout the warm months; while others, like the May and June Beetles, or some of the butterflies are found for only a few weeks in the spring.
The weather plays a large role either in controlling insect numbers or having the opposite effect and allowing their numbers to explode. Many insects will survive a warm winter, but be killed in a very cold one. Summer rains that soften the hard ground and make it easier to dig tunnels often cause the ant colonies to swarm and thousands of winged queens and drones take to the air to start new colonies.
For the visitor who takes the time to stop, look closely, and listen, there are always some insects or other wildlife to be seen or heard.
Did You Know?
Independence Monument is all that remains of a continuous ridge that once formed a wall between Monument and Wedding Canyons. A cap of durable Kayenta rock has protected this picturesque 450 feet (137 meters) high monolith from the relentless erosion that carried away the surrounding rock.