A mention of New Mexico cannot go without noting the abundance of wildlife we encountered during our stay at Rockhound State Park, near Deming. In fact, of the six days we took traveling from North Texas to Central Utah, we encountered more wildlife in New Mexico than any other state we passed through.
Immediately upon claiming our campsite at Rockhound State Park, we discovered a cottontail rabbit comfortably hopping across the gravel. Under a brush, we noticed a quail or other small bird of similar appearance. In fact, we chanced upon several creatures within and just without the state park’s boundaries–jackrabbits, deer, various birds and several lizards. Most memorable were the two reptiles adapted specifically to this area noted in the pinkish color of their bodies–a snake and a horny toad.
When friends visit Texas one of the common complaints I hear is their dislike of all the bugs they find. I immediately thought the same about New Mexico as I scanned the ground below me–I have never seen so many cotton-pickin’ big red harvester ants in my entire life in one small area. I made the regrettable mistake of laying on the ground to stretch my back and legs after riding in the van all day and being bitten by one of these ants. For a week the backside of my knee itched and burned and two weeks later a dark spot in my skin reveals where this unfortunate ant bit me. Unfortunate for him, because he was immediately squished (sorry to kill your meal horny toad).
Honestly though, the bugs didn’t bother me much. Truthfully, I don’t think the harvester ants were out looking for a fight like the fireants I know all too well in Texas. They were in their natural habitat and I was a visitor in their home. The fireants I am so familiar with in North Texas are commonly the Red Imported Fire Ant which is an invasive pest introduced to the United States from South America. I can deal with harvesters…just not with fire ants.
There was the quieter side of insects, usually unseen and made camouflaged by its very shape–unless you are my husband or youngest–the walking stick. We passed along the walking stick, an insect resembling a brush twig, and allowed each of the children to examine the creature with delight. Then, we placed it deep inside one of the dried brushes and went our way capturing it only in photographs to share with others.
We observed this outdoor rule often while camping, remembering to leave each place better than we found it and taking only memories and photographs of our experiences and encounters.