Wildlife and Wild Weather – Things You Should Know About Summer in Phoenix
Summer is here and you’ve booked a fantastic vacation rental home in the Phoenix area – how exciting! If you’ve never visited Phoenix in the summer before, here are a few pointers to help you stay safe and enjoy your desert adventure.
Hot Enough for Ya?
Yes, it’s hot! And it’s not always a very dry heat. While the humidity level in Phoenix is generally far below much of the rest of the US, even 30% humidity, when combined with our high temperatures can seem pretty extreme. Moxie Girl cannot emphasize enough the importance of staying hydrated. Always carry plenty of fresh drinking water with you, especially when walking or driving in the desert. Drink water before – yes before – you feel thirsty. That thirsty feeling is a sign that you are already on your way to dehydration.
Hats and sunglasses offer protection from the sun, and sunscreen is a MUST! The higher the SPF, the more protection the sunscreen will provide, but even a waterproof sunscreen should be reapplied periodically to ensure sun safety. The desert sun is most damaging between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, so limited exposure during those hours is best. Try taking advantage of cooler early morning temperatures for recreational walking, hiking or biking!
Holy Haboobs, Batman!
Summer weather in the Valley often goes from “beautiful, hot and sunny” to dangerous, in short order! Monsoon season can start as early as June and last well into September – and is capable of bringing massive dust storms (called haboobs – really, you can Google it!) heavy rains, crazy wind and flash flooding.
Washes, natural water overflow passes, are abundant in the Arizona desert. You may notice the “Do Not Cross When Flooded” signs posted at many of these washes – and these warnings are not without good reason. Abrupt and heavy rain can cause the washes to flood within minutes, turning a dry desert into a rapidly moving river. A wash you may think doesn’t look “that” flooded, may actually be far deeper and faster moving than you would imagine. Enough people have tried to drive through flooded washes, necessitating emergency rescues that Arizona now has a “stupid motorist law” and may charge the stranded motorist up to $2000 to cover the cost of the rescue. And you don’t want to make your television debut from the roof of your vehicle on the 6 o’clock news, do you?
It is likely you may see an approaching haboob in time to get inside or, if you are driving, find a safe spot to pull off the road as far as possible. These massive dust storms can bring visibility to zero in a matter of seconds! The Arizona Department of Transportation advises pulling off the paved road as far as safely possible and turning off all your lights, so as not to confuse traffic that may be approaching from behind. Stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt on and wait for the dust storm to pass.
Urban Desert is Still Desert
Perhaps your vacation rental home is in the center of town with lots of nearby bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues, but please remember you are still in the desert. Our wildlife may visit even heavily populated areas in search of food. Moxie Girl knows how exciting it can be to spot a javelina or a coyote – especially if you have never seen one in real life! And generally speaking, javelinas and coyotes are non-aggressive towards humans – unless they feel threatened.
But, consider that what may feel non-threatening to YOU could seem quite the opposite to the animal involved, especially if it has young ones nearby. Yes, a selfie with a wild desert boar WOULD be awesome but consider the potential consequences. (Have you noticed the teeth and tusks on those things?) It’s always advisable to observe any wild creature from a safe distance. Never provoke, get close to, or attempt to handle any of the creatures you may encounter. Think how silly you would feel if you died trying to pet something you shouldn’t – and on vacation, no less!
Vacationers with pets, especially small dogs, should never leave their pets outside unattended – even in a fenced yard – since the desert is home to some large birds of prey as well.
Ouch, That Hurt!
They are unique – and many are quite beautiful – but treat any unfamiliar desert plant the way you would a wild animal and keep your distance. Moxie Girl knows you wouldn’t deliberately stick your hand in a cactus but we even have some cactus that “jumps.” Trust us when we say you do not want to add “cactus spine removal” to your summer vacation itinerary. It is also wise to note that even though they may not be cactus or even a spiny succulent, many desert plants sport sharp points and the other unpleasantness. So your best bet is simply to DO NOT TOUCH.
What IS That?
In addition to our native plants, birds, and mammals, the Arizona desert is also home to a variety of things you may NOT want to encounter…such as scorpions. They love to get comfy in those hiking boots you left outside! Best not to give them the opportunity in the first place, but always be sure to give any items left outside, such as towels or shoes, a good shake before putting them on or taking them in the house, to make sure there are no surprises! Seek medical treatment immediately should you fall victim to a scorpion’s sting.
It’s likely you may see other creepy crawlies, especially during our summer monsoon season. Yes, they are horrifying to look at, but giant desert roaches really won’t hurt you. Put the bravest person in your party in charge of a heavy shoe and inform them they are also in charge of disposing of that squashed scorpion or desert roach.
If you’re visiting in June or July you’ll be here for Palo Verde Beetle season. The Palo Verdi Borer Beetle is very interesting…and scary looking! With a limited lifespan of approximately 30 days, they are often mistaken for the desert roaches we mentioned above. They are quite the sight, 3 to 4 inches long with a bulky, segmented body. They are terribly clumsy, not at all speedy and agile like the desert roach. The Palo Verde Beetle is built like a tank, but they are indeed harmless to humans. Their entire 30-day existence is spent lumbering about in search of a mate and once mated, it dies.
You Still In?
Of course, you are – a little wildlife and wild weather is nothing to fear now that you’re armed with desert safety tips and know what to expect. So go get packing for your Arizona summer vacation rental adventure!
Moxie Girl is your vacation rental expert! Vacation rental homeowners and guests, please check out our other blogs and videos for more ways to maximize and enjoy your vacation rental experience.