Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lots of ladybugs

Well, we don't have THAT many. But we do have several. And just I was posting my ladybug images to iNaturalist, Trisha down the street called and asked if I was seeing a lot of ladybugs. 

These are multi-colored Asian lady beetles (Harmonia axyridis). The species has many color variations

What's up with the ladybug showing up in crowds? From the little bit that I read, it seems they're looking for a warm place to  hibernate for the winter. So shut those windows!     

That's nature

Sun's out this afternoon so I went out, too. With my camera. On a garden path, I spotted this beetle under a leaf. Then I saw something wiggling next to it. An earthworm. 

An earthworm being eaten alive by the beetle. Sad, but that's nature. 

I've seen this kind of black beetle before. The kind experts at Bugguide.net told me that it's a ground beetle (Cyclotrachelus sp.). 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Yet another save

Outside, I always check our plastic orange rain bucket just in case someone's stranded. Bingo! I found this handsome wolf spider fellow Thanksgiving Day, rafting on an oak leaf. After a portrait session, I released him, then requested a species ID on Bugguide.net. Laura P. confirmed him as a Gladicosa pulchra. Thank you, Laura! 

Look hard

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Another rescuee

I did it again. I just can't help it. Rescuing is part of my nature.

On Friday, while getting ready for family to arrive for a delayed Thanksgiving dinner, I spotted a spider perched forlornly on the inside of our kitchen window screen. See, cobweb spider ladies and their descendants live between the screen and window on a consistent basis. But this little gal was not a cobweb. My first instinct told me lynx spider.

Since James wasn't around, I climbed onto the kitchen counter and leaned up for a closer look. Yup, I was right. Because I didn't know the exact species (green lynx spiders can grow pretty big), I concluded that I best rescue my little friend or else she'd be stranded behind the glass window forever. 

That decided, I now had to move things off the window sill and straddle the sink before I could unlatch the decades-old window locks and pull up the ancient window. Several minutes later, mission accomplished! THEN I had to corral the lynx into a jar, using a skinny paintbrush that I'd grabbed. Like jumping spiders, lynx spiders vault to get from place to place so I had to be extra careful. Finally, though, the lynx cooperated. After getting the window closed and locked again, I climbed back down from the counter with my tiny rescuee safely in the jar. 

After a quick photo session, I took her outside and released her in some salvias. Live long and prosper, little one!

Moth beauty

Suze, a friend of mine who lives in eastern Blanco County, sent me these photos yesterday and asked if I could identify what'd she found on her property. Oh, my, what a beauty! Was I ever jealous! It took a little work, but I found the species: buck moth (Hemileuca maia). Isn't it just stunning?! I asked if I could share her photos on my blog, and she said yes. Thank you, Suze!  

Friday, November 18, 2016

Cooper's hawk

So I'm outside just now, standing on our back porch, shaking out bed pillows, when I glance across the yard and ..... OH MY GOODNESS IT'S THE HAWK RUN SHERYL GET YOUR CAMERA! So I streaked back into the house and down the hall to grab a digital 35mm. I zipped off a few shots from the porch, then I tried some through my office window. These are the best I could do. 

Meet our neighborhood red-shouldered hawk. We often see him/her flying through our live oaks or soaring overhead. We can hear him/her scream, too. The last time I got photos of him/her was back in January 2014. This time, it was cool to see him/her on our fence, surveying the back yard. Everyone loves our yard! LOL!

(If you can tell if our friend is a male or female, please let me know!) 

UPDATE: Thanks to fellow iNaturalists and experts on The Hawk ID Group (Facebook), we have once and for all nailed down the species of our neighborhood hawks. They are Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii). This one is a male. Thank you, everyone!