Saturday, May 14, 2022

You don’t see anything….

So for awhile, a little Cope’s gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) hung out in our urn plant (bromeliad) on the front porch. When Kip, Lisa, and Charity walked their Kingdom Kids over from our church last month to tour our Wildscape, I had the children parade quietly past the frog. They enjoyed peering at him. A day or two later, though, the frog vanished, no doubt offended by all the unwanted attention. Oh, well, I thought. 

Fast forward a few more days when James and I heard what we thought was a frog, LOUDLY calling from somewhere on the front porch. It happened several more times, too. We’d look around, but there was no frog to be found. Mystery!

This evening, I solved the mystery when I happened to glance above our front door. What was THAT, I asked myself. I looked closer….Our frog friend! Can you see him way up there? Too funny! No one can bother him now!


Friday, May 13, 2022

Arkansas wildlife

This past week, we visited Eureka Springs, Arkansas, one of our most favorite places in the universe. One afternoon, we were cruising down a county road when I told James "STOP!" Then I jumped out of the car and helped this young turtle finish crossing the road. He seemed like he would have socialized with me for a while, but James said we needed to get out of the middle of the road, so please get back in the car. I complied. This afternoon, I looked this turtle up. He was a three-toed box turtle (Terrapene carolina ssp. triunguis). So handsome! (Okay, okay, I don't know for sure whether this turtle was a guy or gal so I'm just assuming.)

Another afternoon, we were walking around town. Going down a wooden staircase, I glimpsed this skink on a step. New species to me! It's a common five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus).

On yet another day, we were walking down a city street when I just barely caught James from stepping on this little guy. He's a western slimy salamander (Plethodon albagula). Naturally, I relocated my slimy friend to a safer place. (On our last day, I found an adult western slimy salamander under a garbage container.) Another new species to me!
I just had to include this photo from a past trip to Eureka. I spotted this golden-backed snipe fly (Chrysopilus thoracicus) on a storefront wall in downtown Eureka. It's one of the most beautiful flies I've ever seen!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Feathered visitors...

Yellow warbler (Setophaga petechia)
Wow, this afternoon our Wildscape hosted a smorgasbord of birds! James was watching from our bedroom window and kept hollering, "Sheryl! Hurry up, Sheryl, come see! Sheryl!" I couldn't keep with taking photos using my "big" camera. LOL!

Orchard oriole, first-year male (Icterus spurius)

Orchard oriole (Icterus spurius)
American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)

Common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

Painted bunting, female (Passerina ciris)

Another orchard oriole

Just a brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater)

American robin (Turdus migratorius)

Thursday, April 21, 2022

O Wise Cenizo 2022

So here we go for 2022! On Facebook last Monday (April 18), I posted these two photos of O Wise Cenizo across the street "slightly" blooming. As you may or may not know, we've had next to no rain this spring. It's been awful and sad. Hardly any bluebonnets have come up in the Meadow. 
Naturally, I was excited to see the cenizo in bloom last Monay. But I was hesitant about posting the photos of it on Facebook. Could O Wise Cenizo REALLY predict rain again? Like it did so many times last year and times before that? Well, the next day, we had light showers! Today we've been having more light showers. Hey, we'll take any and all moisture we can get! 
Dear O Wise Cenizo, you are AMAZING once again!

April 19 showers

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Fighting fire ants

So I have decided to fight the red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) that have taken up residence in our yard and Meadow. Here is what I'm using and doing as I go through this process. I'm also including information gathered from other sources on how to control this invasive species. 

First I emailed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and asked how they control fire ants at the center: "Our gardens manager says we use orange oil, CONSERVE, and ant traps, depending on the situation. She recommends starting with orange oil and see how that goes."

Texas Two Step method (click on link for guidelines). 

Managing Fire Ants for Specific Sites

Products: Extinguish Plus 

                Fertilome Come and Get It fire Ant Killer

               Orange Guard

Finally, I visited with Tor on the phone at Orange Guard in California. He advised a mixing ratio of one part Orange Guard and three parts water. "Puncture and pore into the mound until you see bubbles," he told me. He said to figure 1/2 gallon per mound. Using his math, one gallon mixed with three gallons of water will treat eight mounds. 

SHERYL, however, decided to start out using less on her first mound. Here's how it went on a Wednesday about 2:30 p.m.:

Purchased on Amazon for $41.20, one gallon, free shipping.

I returned to the scene half an hour later....

Alas, I did spot some ants still inside the mound. We'll see! Stay tuned. I'll be updating this post as I go.

UPDATE MAY 14, 2022 –– So the orange oil works fairly well. Now I'm going to try diatomaceous earth, which is the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. In a nutshell, the powder causes insects to dry out and die. First, I watched two videos produced by Jamie Hardy with Useful Knowledge. In the second video, "Diatomaceous Earth Fire Ant Study," Jamie demonstrates his treatment method and then shares a study he made of 31 mounds that he treated with DE. He had pretty good success using DE.
Four pounds, $14.99 at our local hardward store.
This morning, I treated two mounds in the Meadow and two in our back yard. However, I altered his method. I did not liberally broadcast and throw out DE beyond the mound. That's because I do not want to harm other insects (though I'm sure a few will perish). Instead, I used a plastic cup to scoop up some DE, then I sprinkled it generously around the mounds' perimeters and also in the entry hole areas. I'll check the mounds this afternoon and see what's going on....



Tuesday, April 19, 2022

More blooms

So another first-time bloomer–our Eve's necklace (Styphnolobium affine), gifted to us last year by Matt Murrah. James planted her in the Meadow.
I couldn't decided which photo to post so I posted both (different lighting). This has got to be the prettiest our blue wild indigo (Baptisia autralis) has ever looked. So far, no genista broom moth caterpillars (Uresiphita reversalis)....


Friday, April 15, 2022

I'm in a museum!

(Not my image)

This is the fun part of having a blog. You just never where posts may lead you. Back in July 2014, I made a "When bees to go to bed" post. The post includes some of my favorite photos that I've taken in our Wildscape. I haven't seen bees roost like that since. (You'll have to check out the post!) Anyway, on April 10, 2020, I received this email: "I am a docent at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and with your permission would love to use the subject photo for educational purposes only at the museum. Of course, I would credit you as the photographer. Buzz H." 

I granted him permission and asked that he send me a photo of how he was going to use it.

Last Thursday, Buzz emailed me: "Two years ago you gave me permission to use your sleeping bees photo for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s internal document that docents use to interpret bees to museum visitors. You asked me to send me a photo about how your photo is being used. The document is now in use at the museum. I have attached a photo of the document’s cover page and a photo of the page that has your photo. By the way, our museum is also involved with the University of Arizona and Pima Community College in a collaborative native bee research effort called the Tucson Bee Collaborative." Isn't this just COOL!?? Thank you, Buzz!