Day and Night in the Desert

In late spring, the desert is very hot and dry. But it is full of life. During the cool night, a beautiful saguaro cactus flower blossoms. In the morning, painted lady butterflies suck nectar from wildflowers growing in the Sun. Saguaro cactus blossoms last only one day in the hot desert Sun.

Nearby, a hungry lizard watches. It soon snaps up a butterfly and scurries away. Then it rests on a rock warmed by the Sun. Lizards have to eat, too. The western whiptail lizard has long claws to dig for food and catch insects.

A young snake slithers by, very quietly. It strikes quickly and gobbles up a lizard. The snake won't be hungry for the rest of the day. Even baby rattlesnakes have sharp teeth.

Most desert animals stay hidden in the shade during the hot afternoon. But at sunset the desert begins to cool. A roadrunner darts out from behind a barrel cactus. Roadrunners are very quick. Roadrunners can't fly very well, so they run fast instead. The snake is a nice treat.

In the evening, a coyote waits in the darkness. It has begun its night of hunting to bring food to its family. It doesn't bother to chase the roadrunner. A roadrunner is very hard to catch. The coyote looks for a kangaroo rat instead. Coyotes are clever hunters and can pounce quickly on their prey.

Under the desert moon, another saguaro flower blossoms. In the morning, a butterfly will sip nectar from wildflowers, and the search for food in the desert will begin again.


A sweet liquid found in many flowers.

To hit with something.

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  1. What insects and animals are active during the day in the desert?
    [anno: The insects and animals that are active during the day in the desert are painted lady butterflies, lizards, snakes, and roadrunners.]
  2. What animals are active during the night in the desert?
    [anno: The animals that are active during the night are coyotes, roadrunners, and kangaroo rats.]
  3. Why do you think some animals are active during the day and other animals are active during the night?
    [anno: Answers may vary but could include that it is too hot during the day for some animals to be active. Other animals, such as snakes and lizards, need the warmth of the Sun.]