Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Go ahead

Go ahead, buddy. Chomp on what's left of our tomato plant. And, OH, yes, I can see you! You may think you blend right in, but I spotted you with my raptor-like eyes. You'd better thank your lucky sunbeams, too, Tomato Hornworm, that you landed on OUR plant and not someone else's. 'Cause then you'd be SQUISHED, SQUASHED and SPLATTERED faster than you could blink (if you had real eyes, that is, other than those weird ones on your backside). 

Good luck, T.H. Best to you! You're gonna need it if you hope to outbrain the birds around this place. If you make it, then we look forward to seeing you turn into a Carolina sphinx moth (Manduca sexta). See you later!

Lichen moth

This pretty insect on our goldenrod caught my eye awhile ago. It's a black-and-yellow lichen moth (Lycomorpha pholus). Yellow? This one was definitely REDDISH ORANGE. 

Bugguide.net says this about the species: "Larvae feed on lichens. The strictly diurnal adults are often found on flowers of dogbane (Adpocynum, Apocynaceae), goldenbush (Ericameria, Asteraceae) and goldenrod (Solidago, Asteraceae).....The red color pattern is thought to be mimicry of poisonous Lycid beetles, such as Calopteron."

Stock tank surprise!

 TADPOLES!  First time EVER! 
Lots and lots and lots of tadpoles!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Grasshopper feet

Yesterday, a BIG grasshopper appeared on our dining room window and climbed around on the glass. At first, I didn't think anything about it. Then I thought, Hmmm, I wonder if it has feet similar to a jumping spider's? See, the feet of jumping spiders (and other spiders) have dense tufts of hair called scopulae, which enable them to walk up walls and other sheer surfaces. These scopulae adhere using an extremely thin water film on the surface, like a piece of wet paper might stick to a mirror. 

Now I'm no expert, but I'd suspect that a grasshopper must use a similar trick. So I fetched my camera and took some shots. The photos aren't that great, but you can see the wide round pad on each foot, which must adhere to a surface like scopulae do. Thus, our grasshopper guest was able to climb up our window. Cool!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Carrion plant

For the first time, my carrion plant (Stapelia sp.)–gifted to me last year by my friend Nancy–is blooming! Though not a Texas native, this genus is so interesting.... 

WOWZER–news flash! I just learned that this south African native belongs to the milkweed family of Asclepiadaceae! I never knew that! For years and years, my former husband grew a carrion plant in a large clay pot on our front porch (he may still have it) so I'm familiar with the plant and its ability to produce a "dead meat" aroma that attracts pollinating flies. Now I see the carrion plant's five-pointed star bloom–common to milkweed flowers–that will turn into a milkweed seed pod complete with white fluff

The carrion plant definitely is a milkweed. Look what showed up today (Sep. 13)–milkweed bugs!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

New butterfly and a migration

I shot these photos last Thursday evening. We'd been noticing these large sulphurs flying through our gardens. I finally got some pictures. I wasn't sure on the species so I checked in with the experts at Bugguide.net. These are large orange sulphurs (Phoebis agarithe)! Which is a new species for us. Cool!

I'm not certain which skipper this one was (above photo). But I loved how I caught the curled-up proboscis.
For the past week or so, we've had millions of butterflies flying through Central Texas. Silly me last Thursday tried to nab a sample butterfly with a net on the street in front of our house. (James got a video.) No luck. I happened to look down and spot a dead one. Yep, an American snout nose (Libytheana carinenta), as I suspected, on their way south (except ours in the neighborhood were flying west to east down Ninth Street). News reports confirmed the species.

Monday, September 5, 2016