Saturday, August 19, 2017

My Spiderman spider gal

So today James and I drove the mayor of Blanco around the county. True story. Except that's not THE story. My story is this jumping spider lady.....
I was stopped at a highway intersection south of town when I spotted a little jumping spider on my car windshield. Oh, no! I knew I'd be picking up speed soon, too! While I waited for traffic to clear so I could make my turn, I tried to distract and direct the spider toward my window, but no go. She only ran the other way a bit. So I turned and drove down the highway, following James and the mayor in the lead vehicle. Behind me was a Blue Bell ice cream truck. Could my spider friend hang on? If she didn't, she'd surely fly right into the truck windshield behind us and....**SPLAT!!** 
 Hey, wait a minute....you already know how this story ends....
ANYWAY, I kept driving, and she kept hanging onto the windshield with her super-strong feet. (Jumping spiders have scopula, which are dense brush-like hairs on the bottom of their feet that adhere to surfaces and allow them to climb up vertical surfaces and walk upside down on surfaces, too.) 

Along the way, I rah-rah-rahhed on her behalf. 

"Hang on, baby!" I said, over and over again. "Hang on! Just a few more miles! Don't let go! Hang on, baby!" I gripped the steering wheel really hard. This was stressful, you know. Life and death. My spider girl just HAD to make it!

At one point, the odometer topped out at 64 miles per hour. I figured Mr. Blue Bell on my bumper could just deal with it. And who knew what  James was thinking waaaayyyy up ahead. 

Finally, we turned off on a farm road. I could drive a little slower. Which I did. Then, finally, our caravan turned off onto a caliche ranch road. As soon as I could, I stopped and jumped out of my car with my handy-dandy spider catcher container (a white aspirin bottle) that I keep in my purse for just such occasions. 

And I did it! I caught my Spiderman spider girl safe and sound...but missed the electric gate. It clanged shut. Which left me on the other side. But I was happy. I had my spider girl safe in hand. James and the mayor showed back up later. Back at home, I released her in our back yard, then took lots of photos of her.

So that's my little story about my Spiderman spider gal that hung onto my car windshield with super-duper strength and stamina. Isn't she just amazing? And beautiful, too!



Monday, August 14, 2017

Heartleaf hibiscus in bloom

Our little heartleaf hibiscus is blooming! This was a gift from Melody in San Antonio, who attended our 2016 garden party. It came with the stowaway swanflower vine, which I also love. Nearly 10 years in our Wildscape, we had a heartleaf hibiscus, but it died. I hope this one survives for a long, long time.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Snowberry clearwing egg

The other day, I was out front when I noticed a snowberry clearwing moth trying to nectar on our coral honeysuckle vine that has yellow blooms. Only there weren't any blooms, only leaves. She was visiting the leaves. 

"You need to go to the back yard, sweetie," I told the moth. "We have lots of flowers back there." THEN I realized what she was doing....DEPOSITING EGGS! See? They look like tiny green pearls.

Seed container

Look what I bought (used) to hold my seeds! Works pretty good.

My yellow garden gal

 My yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) in the back yard isn't quite full grown yet. Isn't she beautiful?



Cool volunteers

Look what I spotted blooming near our Texas madrone child! A clammyweed! Perhaps Polanisia dodecandra? I have no clue where it came from, unless it was a stowaway on the madrone.


And then I found a wild poinsettia (Euphorbia cyanthophora) sharing space with my corkstem passionflower vine. I didn't have the heart to pull it. In our Wildscape, I see a lot of Mexican fireplant (Euphorbia heterophylla), which lacks the red marks. 

UPDATE: Reply from Mike Prochoroff, The Madrone Way, "Yes, it's a cleome, and the seeds probably popped over to my potting soil area. They should be putting out 2- to 3-inch pods now or the next few weeks after that rain. Then the pods dry and twist in a few days, after which the tiny seeds can be quickly collected. I've collected some and will probably grow a dozen next year. They are beautiful and seem to take the heat."

Stock tank update

Yesterday evening and this morning, I shot some photos of our little stock tank pond. The gambusia (minnows) are reproducing prolifically. I have fun leaning down and peering into the lemon bacopa (green leaves to the right) and searching for tiny babies. And our Rio Grande leopard frog (I call her "Froggie") is quite happy, too. She like to sit on "her" rock in the morning.


Can you see Froggie sunning?


Monday, August 7, 2017

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Autumn meadowhawk

My iNaturalist colleagues identified this as an autumn meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum). She makes at least three dragonfly species that have been documented in our Wildscape!

Summer blooms

Simpson's rosinweed
Plateau goldeneye

Texas star hibiscus
Texas greeneyes
Coralbean

Turk's cap 'Pam's Pink'

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dug-up transplants update

I'm so thrilled! My four dug-up neighborhood treasures are doing well! This afternoon, I planted my prairie acacia (above). It had grown a lot so I figured it was time.

More mulch

Thank you, Mr. Contractor with Pedernales Electric Cooperative. Just call and get on their list!

Madrone update

Our Texas madrone–a gift from Mike at The Madrone Wayis braving the heat and hanging in there. We water her once a week on Sundays.

Black witch

My mother spotted this handsome moth first at her house near Boerne last Saturday. "That's a black witch!" I exclaimed. We were all thrilled to see this beautiful, huge species. (Hers was a male; females have a pink line running across their wings.) Check out Texas entomologist Mike Quinn's natural and cultural history of the black witch (Ascalapha odorata) here.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Uninvited dinner guests

Last night, I was outside watering my plant friends (to keep them alive during these blazing hot temps) when I noticed a cloud of gnats or tiny flies swarming around our tall Texas hibiscus. I inched up closer to see better. And look what I found! A praying mantid TRYING to eat her bug supper. Those pesky flies kept horning in, trying to get some, too. You can see them in these photos. I also took a video, but the focus is horrible. I'm going to share it because you can at least see the flies flying around the mantid. Interesting!