Saturday, July 4, 2015

This and that

Texas milkweed
Big hairy fly on flame acanthus
Garden spider gal hidden within the flame acanthus
A different shot of her

A damselfly...

Same damselfly

Spiny young friend

For more than a month, I've seen a young Texas spiny lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus) hanging out in a live oak that we can see from our dining room window. Sometimes we can spot it while we're eating a meal at our table.

Finally, yesterday evening I got a photo of it! I ran outside after we'd seen it while eating supper. At first, I thought the lizard had already run up the tree and I'd missed my chance. But then I looked again. It was still there so I got a couple of shots. See how well this species blends into tree bark?

One big mosquito!

I don't remember seeing one of these before. A mosquito? I found it resting on an 'Eyelash' salvia leaf. I ran inside the house for my camera so I could snag some shots. She (?) rested there for quite a long time. At my desk, I snooped around on and found her. This is an elephant mosquito (Toxorhynchites rutilus). 

According to the online species account, "Adults take nectar. Larvae feed on aquatic insects, especially other species of mosquites, becoming cannibalistic sometimes. Adults are day-fliers. Overwinter as late-instar larvae or as adult (southern part of range?). Has been reared for biological control. Predatory mosquitoes in the genus Toxorhynchites are the most common arthropods which have been used for control of "container-breeding" mosquitoes. The combination of carnivorous larvae and innocuous adults is very attractive in biological control. Successful biological control has been reported using Toxorhynchites species from Japan, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the United States."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July 2015 in our Wildscape

Our first jimsonweed bloom

It's official! Our jimsonweed (Datura wrightii) bloomed for the first time last night. We know that for certain because we went outside the night before, and it wasn't blooming yet. The rest of that story is that we went outside, way after dark, in our pajamas. James first, me second, out the front door. 

"Did you just shut the door, Sheryl?" James asked.

Uh, oh.


"That means we're locked out. Right?"


We laughed. 

We could laugh because we know we have a well hidden key that would let us back in. Otherwise, we'd have been been breaking into our own home, I guess.

And yes, we went back outside, way after dark, in our pajamas again to check the jimsonweed. I made doubly sure to UNLOCK the door before I closed it. And YES, the big bloom was flowering! So beautiful. James snapped these photos with his camera. 

Our nighttime adventure reminded me of the time we walked down the street with our daughter, Lindsey, to snap pictures of our neighbor's jimsonweed in bloom. (Hey, I was in my PJs then, too!) Good times!

P.S. Some day time shots taken this morning of our "moonflower"....

Beware of new invasive plant species

Reprinted from the June 2015 issue of iWire, a monthly e-newsletter published by

New Invasive Species Discovered in Texas
In May, the observant eyes of landowners led to the discovery of a new non-native and potentially invasive species in Texas. Dennis and Denise Johnston came across a wildflower they hadn’t seen before on their ranch in Burnet County. Curious, the couple enlisted the help of Bill Carr, a Texas botanist at Acme Botanical Services. Mr. Carr identified the plant as blue hound’s tongue, Cynoglossum creticum. This plant has been identified in the U.S. only once before, in southwestern Missouri. It is native to the Mediterranean area, and has the potential to be invasive, having caused problems in pastures in some parts of the world. While a quickly organized pulling party spent three hours removing enough to fill two pick-up truck beds, there is still much remaining on not only the Johnston’s property but neighboring ones as well. Plans are being formulated to attack the plant next Spring.  Learn more about blue hound’s tongue.

(Photos courtesy Bill Carr, Acme Botanical Services)