A Lac of Interest

Because creosote is so common and grows literally everywhere here on the desert, I often tend to overlook it. My mistake.

The other day it surprised me. As I passed by yet another bush of same-old-same-old, I spotted several lumps on two of the branches. I was stumped. They were hard and dry and asymmetrical. What were they?

It took a chance encounter with a docent at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum to find the answer. This was the work of lac insects. (If shellac comes to mind, it’s because this insect is related to the one from which that varnish and sealant is produced.)

The work of lac insects

The tiny lac insects suck up sugary sap from the creosote, using some for food and eliminating the rest. As the sap hardens it forms a natural protection against predators and the weather.

Although I checked the two branches carefully I couldn’t see any live insects.  Nor could I see any ants, who sometimes protect lac colonies from predators, “milking” them like cows, just as they do with aphids.

The lesson for me? Don’t ignore what’s right under my nose. 🙂


Lac insect   Tachardiella larreae
Creosote   Larrea tridentata

Goodbye Canon, Hello Sony

You’re taking pics. You’re lining  up great shots. You’re in the zone then … zzziiittt. Huh? What the heck is happening?

Turns out that what-the-heck is a camera lens that won’t retract. How the #$@% did that happen?

I tried everything to get it working again. Then finally realized that like my old pal, Olympus, my Canon was beyond repair. At least by me. I was in shock. Me? Without a camera? Not a good thing. Not good at all.

Then Serendipity stepped in. (I must say she arrived at the most opportune time.) My friend, Jeff, offered to send me his mirrorless Sony A6000, with lenses. Wow.

Having vowed, repeatedly, that I did not want to get caught up in lenses and camera bags and toting “stuff” again, I began to weaken.

I fell in love with that Sony. (Okay, I may as well admit it: I caved and bought myself one. With a telephoto lens. And when the purse strings weaken I’ll get a macro lens too. Oh, woman, thou art so easily swayed.)

I’ll get in touch with Canon and see what, if anything, can be done for my long-time lens-plagued companion. In the meantime, Sony & I will be outside getting acquainted.