Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Seeds spread

Now's a good time to throw out seeds in the Meadow since James mowed this week and we're getting a little moisture, too. After my spider presentation in Kerrville Monday, Texas Master Naturalist Tony Plutino gave us some American basket-flower seeds from his Mason property so I spread those around. I also had some standing cypress seeds in a paper sack from last year so I threw those out, too. We'll see what spring brings! 

Spider presentation

Many thanks to Floyd Trefny and his fellow members with the Hill Country Master Naturalists chapter for hosting me in Kerrville Monday evening. For nearly an hour, I got to talk about "Spiders of Central Texas" in front of a captive audience of about 65 people, which included my mother, Marcelle. It was her first time to hear me speak on my favorite subject. James came, too. A good time was had by all!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Meadow mowed

(Pre-mow photos by James)
Time to mow, says James. Okay, say I. BUT FIRST, I've got to mark antelope horns and harvest what I can from horsemint and American basket-flower seed heads. A few weeks go by. Finally, a date is set. I do my deeds. Then James does his. 

Presenting, pre-mow and after-mow photos!

American basket-flowers
Thank you, James, for all your hard work! Looks GREAT!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mystery eggs

What's chewing up the morning glory

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that something was chewing up a volunteer purple bindweed (Ipomoea cordatotriloba) that's growing on the chain-link fence in our back yard. But I couldn't find the culprit. Until YESTERDAY. For the first time in a long while, I was shooting photos in the back yard for fun (my eyes are better). That's when I spied a beetle on the underside of a leaf.

I got a couple of bad shots. The sneaky beetles either quickly dropped to the ground or flew off. But I was DETERMINED.

Finally, I corralled one in a glass jar and took some pictures. That's it in the photo below. I recognized it as a tortoise beetle. So I got online and sleuthed the species: the golden tortoise beetle (Charidotella sexpunctata), which host on the leaves of sweet potatoes and other morning glories. Bingo!

Here's an interesting fact: adults can change color when disturbed (and when mating). Larvae also cover themselves with fecal matter to conceal themselves. Check out this article: "Glad you ditched the anal fork, Golden Tortoise Beetle."

 A while ago, I went back outside, determined to track down at least one more tortoise beetle for this post. Well, I managed to find not one but two. However, they're a different species that also eats morning glories: mottled tortoise beetle (Deloyala guttata). Fine with me! I think tortoise beetles are gorgeous! And I don't mind them eating up our purple bindweed at all. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Evening light scenes

Turk's cap

Pearl milkweed vine

Turk's cap

Purple hearts
Society garlic

Velvetleaf mallow
Scarlet clematis

Dragonflies foraging over the Meadow

This morning, I noticed how morning sun rays lit up dragonflies that were buzzing around over the Meadow. For a while, I watched from a distance. Then I walked over for a closer look. That's when I observed tiny flecks of white floating up from the Meadow. Hmmm. Gnats or moths must have been freshly emerging from below in the Meadow, and the dragonflies were enjoying breakfast. Sure enough, if I managed to track one white fleck as it journeyed upward, a dragonfly came by, and it was GONE. Cool!