Signs of Spring

In the Mohave Desert in Southwestern America the signs that spring has arrived are quite different than places where there is more rainfall and flowering plants.  But there are definite signs that you can’t miss, even though some of them are signs that you really should try to avoid seeing. 

One of the first signs of spring is the appearance of the lizards.  Although you may see one venture out to feed on a warm winter day, which in the desert can be around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, they usually stay underground until the first week of April.  There are many species of lizards in the Mohave and the species you will see most frequently will largely depend on what region of the desert you are in. 

The scorpions will start to emerge next.  There are somewhere around 60 different species of scorpions in the Mohave Desert.  Although most of them are relatively small, from 2 to 3 inches in length, the Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion can reach a length of more than 5 inches and will feed upon the lizards.  Only a few species of scorpions are venomous to humans but a sting from any one of them can be quite painful.  With the advent of warm spring weather, the donning of flip flops and the emergence of weeds, it is wise to be aware of what is near your hands and feet. 

Also following the appearance of the lizards are the snakes of the Mohave Desert.  Since they too feed on the lizards, snakes will start to show themselves usually within days of the first lizard you spot.  There will be many species of snakes that are non-venomous but their bite can be painful.   Then there are the deadly pit vipers or rattlesnakes that come out to lie on rocks to warm themselves and perhaps catch a lizard.  

But when spring arrives in the desert it isn’t all danger.  The baby quail start to hatch and follow their parents and it is not unusual to see 15 chicks following a couple of adults across the yard.  You will start to see baby chipmunks try to scurry around the yard but they are so tiny that they stumble over pebbles. 

One of the most awesome displays of the arrival of spring in the desert is the blooming of the desert wildflowers and cacti.  From the delicate tissue thin fuchsia or yellow blooms of the Prickly Pear cactus to the brilliant blues of the Blue Phacelia the desert blooms in spring.   A species of the wild rose, the Cliffrose, with its tiny white flowers, can be seen on the rocky cliffs alongside the road in higher elevations while the bright yellow flowers of the Brittlebush and the white blooms of Desert Chicory line the roads and highways at lower elevations. 

Although you must be careful where you walk and what you touch, the breathtaking display of wildflowers and cacti in bloom is a guarantee that spring has finally arrived in the Mohave Desert.