Monday, August 23, 2010

Native plant search engine

Here's a neat resource: the Native Plants of Texas Search Engine.

"NPOT was built by my husband and me," Josephine Kenney wrote me, "because we love native plants, and at the time there wasn't much to search on."

Good job, Kenneys! And we love our native plants, too!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Caterpillars and a ladybug

A few days ago, I spotted our first queen caterpillar on the butterfly weed. It was already pretty large. Then, while James and I were mulching mulching mulching Tuesday, I looked and couldn't find it. "Darn, a bird must have found it," I lamented. "So we're just raising caterpillars for the birds?"

Yesterday, however, good news! I found the caterpillar again! Figured I'd better take a photo this time. It didn't care. It was too busy chowing down.

In the back yard, I found another twice-stabbed ladybug (Chilocorus stigma). Isn't this species pretty?

I also checked on all the crimson patch (Chlosyne janais) caterpillars on the flame acanthus. They're getting BIG. So far, there is plenty of leaves still left.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Beware of dog NOT

Look what I did! This old metal sign has been hanging on our chain-link fence for YEARS. I think it used to say "BEWARE OF DOG." Our neighbors, Dan and Marcella, yesterday told us that yes, the Bendeles (Henry and Bonnie, who built and lived in the Pink House before us and are now in heaven), did have a dog at one time, but it was pretty much harmless. Anyway, I decided I'd take down the sign and redo it! I think it turned out very nice, if you don't mind me saying.

First, I sanded the metal a little. Then I painted it white. Over that, I painted the green (a color we used to paint our home office). I used Sharpies to fill in the text, flower and little "buzzing" butterfly (my friend, Martha, loaned me the stencils and white paint). Finally, I applied a protective gloss. Two hours or so later–voila!

Family time!

Yay! My 10-year-old nephew, Brandon, and sister-in-law, Laura, from Katy, Texas, along with my mother, Marcelle, visited this past Tuesday! Brandon has grown A LOT! Pretty soon, he's gonna outgrow his mother AND me. It was just great to see them both.

Naturally, we toured them around the Wildscape and introduced them to everyone...

I looked for Gulf fritillary caterpillars on the passionflower vines in the back yard (above) but couldn't turn any up. I did show Brandon my green friend, the praying mantis on the Jerusalem sage (below).

And I did manage to find one big fritillary caterpillar on the passionflower in the front yard (above). I think Brandon was impressed. Thanks for coming, #1 Favorite Nephew!

Corn crop

Remember our surprise crops? How I found corn planted around the Wildscape by our furry friends, the squirrels? I forgot to post some photos that James took of our "harvest" last month.

After he picked the two ears, James put them both in our squirrel feeder.

Way to go, squirrels!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My green friend, a beetle and other happenin's

Yesterday, I was really excited to spot an ironclad beetle, one of the prettiest and most unusually marked species in our neighborhood. When I picked it up, it immediately "played dead." And it did a good job of it, too! (See below) But not for long. I let it go under the inland sea oats.

I used to pull up this stuff. Then I discovered it's a "native"–either Carolina ponysfoot or Oakswood ponysfoot. Probably Carolina. Either way, it makes a great groundcover!

And look, one of our fall obedient plants is blooming!

I snuck this photo past James. Dozens of these tiny caterpillars are devouring leaves on our flame acanthus. Several weeks ago, we snipped off an acanthus branch that was covered with caterpillars, and James tossed it across the street. This time, I let them be because I wanted to find out the species. Well, they're crimson patch (Chlosyne janais) caterpillars! I love to play investigator!

And yesterday evening, James spotted this guy–a baby Texas spiny lizard. He was a cute little thing!

Finally, last but not least, my green friend on the Jerusalem sage. She's more than doubled in size.