August: Arizona’s monsoon brings out a bevy of bugs.


But don’t worry. The flying and crawling creatures mean you no harm, and are interested primarily in finding the right bug with which to mate and procreate.
Starting this year weather officials made the arrival of the monsoon depend on the calendar – it starts June 15 – rather than on attaining a specified dew point, a temperature where moisture in the air condenses into water and dew can form. Adult insects are what we see coming out of hiding and scurrying or flying about when the humidity rises and the rains fall.
The activity level for adults is probably at the peak in the monsoon. They emerge as adults when the weather is good, find a mate and find a place to lay their eggs.
Insect communications are hampered by low humidity. Their exoskeletons are less able to receive smells, sounds and touches in hot, dry weather. Monsoons allow for great communications. The adults are out there to find mates, reproduce and seek places to lay eggs for the next generation to survive.
People are likely to notice the Palo Verde Root Borer, a large beetle that makes a buzzing or humming sound vibrating its four hard wings when flying. The deep-brown bugs, about 4 inches long, fly around bright lights at gas stations, convenience stores and parking lots. Their size and large mandibles make them appear frightening to some people, but they don’t bite and are harmless.
Many bugs are nocturnal, and fly using the moon and stars for navigation. Bright man-made lights overwhelm the natural light, attracting bugs to areas where people congregate. One way to keep flying bugs from buzzing around your home is to turn lights off, or replace white light bulbs with yellow ones.
Insects that work during the day are attracted by yellow flowers, but insects that are active at night do not respond to yellow light.
Swarms of flying ants also appear during the monsoon season. Each different type of rain may trigger one or two or three different types of ants. The humongous gully-washers during the monsoon bring out leaf cutter ants, which form large, black clouds, often in residential areas. Sometimes the flying ants will pick a tall structure, such as a chimney, as a geographic meeting – and mating – point. This doesn’t mean a thing to the security of anyone’s home. All these things are going on outdoors.
The rains mean plant growth and more food available to the insects and their emerging young. There is a big increase in population because of all this food available to them.
Insects that come out during the monsoon tend to have short life spans, living only a few weeks. Since they don’t emerge at the same time, you may see them from now until the end of August.
• Cicadas: “Everyone hears them this time of year.”
• Palo Verde Root Borer: “They have big mandibles up front, big jaws, but they don’t bite. That big insect is a tiny thing to a person.”
• June beetles: “These are the standard brown-to-black beetle a half-inch or bigger you see coming to lights.”
• White-lined sphinx: “This moth is amazingly common here. These are the moths that come from the caterpillars that migrate at the end of the rainy season, and the road turns yellow with squashed ones.”
• Tarantula hawk wasp: “These large wasps have bright orange wings and eat spiders. They won’t bother you unless you try to grab them.”

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