Saturday, June 23, 2012

Now THAT'S a BIG beetle!

James has been making some pretty darn good finds lately. Awhile ago, we were outside, walking around the Wildscape, when he walked over to the street side to pick up a beer bottle in the ditch (HOW CAN PEOPLE THROW OUT GARBAGE LIKE THEY DO??!!). Then he spotted something moving around....this huge beetle! I went for my cameras and snapped some shots. Then a few minutes later, the poor guy DIED! At least, we thought he died. At any rate, he was already in puny health.
I check my Peterson Field Guide, and I believe this big beetle to be a hardwood stump borer (Mallodon dasystomus).

This and that

We planted two calylophus (Calylophus berlandieri) in April 2009. They've bloomed every year since just beautifully. But now they're dying back, which saddens me. I thought I'd take a picture because I can't remember if the plants did this last year. I'm hoping! Because I'd hate to see them go.
What I once considered a pesky weed is NOT. The common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) has very pretty flowers and is a host plant for the silvery checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis). See my July 7, 2010, post.
However, common sunflowers are GIANTS in the garden!
James found a little frog yesterday. We can't decide if it's a Rio Grande leopard (Rana berlandieri) or a southern leopard (Rana sphenocephala). 

Passionflowers, native and otherwise

I'm SO SO SO excited! Look! A native yellow passionflower (Passiflora lutea) blooming! A month or so ago, I spotted the tiny vines growing beneath a live oak on my neighbor's adjoining property. I'd been watching one plant, hoping it'd bloom because I've never seen one. Yesterday, I was in flower! As you can see, the blossom is no bigger than a penny. It's so delicate and beautiful. 

Our other passionflower vines are blooming, but they're not native. They're beautiful, just the same, though.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Watch out for this bug

Today's edition of the San Antonio Express-News has a report about a dangerous parasite carried by certain species of kissing bugs: Chagas disease carrier may be threat in Texas.

"For years, scientists have known that the sweetly named kissing bug found throughout South and Central Texas carries the parasite that causes Chagas disease, a major killer in parts of Latin America," reporter Don Finley wrote."What wasn't known is if those Texas bugs infect people, although they clearly infect animals — including bomb-sniffing dogs at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and nonhuman primates at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute."

According to the article, "five species of triatoma bugs found around San Antonio carry the infection, the most common of them Triatoma gerstaeckeri — a flat, dark brown teardrop-shaped bug with lighter stripes mostly obscured by its wings. Adults are often more than an inch in length."

Chile pequin

The peppers are turning RED on our chile pequin bushes.

Mini cicada

I was outside yesterday afternoon, nipping off dead flowers, when I felt something land on my foot. I looked down and found this little cicada. I caught it in my hand, then walked into the house for my camera. Back outside, it posed patiently for numerous shots. Then it flew off.
Entomologist Mike Quinn says it's likely a grasslands cicada. Maybe Cicadetta texana? Bill Reynolds via says it's a mesquite cicada (Pacarina puella). Either way, it was CUTE. I've never seen a cicada that tiny before.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A butterfly and bromeliad

A queen resting on what's left of a blue mistflower.
Our bromeliad's blooming again! Our neighbor Jerri gave it to us as as wedding gift in May 2006.

Monday, June 18, 2012

What's blooming and chirping

The rock roses are spectacular right now.

While I was shooting the rock roses, a trio of young Carolina wrens were bug hunting on the ground and up the brick wall of our house. When I turned my camera on one, I got a nice photo of one curious little guy. 
We have so many young birds in our Wildscape right now. One particularly LOUD teenaged mockingbird screeches nearly all day for his parents to feed him. A pair of cardinal parents stay busy tending their kids, too.

The flame acanthuses are blooming. Later this summer, maybe we'll get more crimson patch caterpillars to host on the leaves.
A couple of views of our back yard, complete with the stock tank pond.

More pipevine

What's left of our original pipevine (Aristolochia fimbriata)
Two weekends ago, a new hatch of pipevine caterpillars devoured what was left of our pipevine plants in the Meadow. They're still alive, and you can barely see a new sprout in the upper left quadrant of the photo above. This nonnative species is very resilient. In June 2009, we planted three. But we didn't attract any caterpillars until this summer. I wanted to run and buy more after the caterpillars finished off the leaves, but the Natural Gardener didn't have any in stock. A nice lady said she could take my phone number and call when some came in. A few days later, Eric from the nursery called and said they had pipevine plants. So we drove into Austin last Friday and purchased two.

Last night, we got nearly an inch of rain. So James planted the vines this morning. Perfect timing!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

BIG ant!

Or is it?
What do you think?

Get the answer here.

A new betony

For a few weeks, we'd been noticing this little "weed" growing happily in patches across the back yard. But I mostly ignored it until curiosity got the best of me. I took some photos and got some closer looks...hmmm, the flowers looked henbit. More so, Texas betony! So I pulled out a field guide...nada. On to the Wildflower Center's! I think we've got mousesear, also commonly called shade betony (Stachys crenata).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Meet a beetle

James found this long-horned beetle (probably an oak borer, Enaphalodes sp.*) in the house yesterday while he was dusting. I wasn't too surprised. I'd heard something either bumping around or chomping somewhere under our bed lately. Now I know what it was!

* "My guess would be a Enaphalodes atomaurius based on the diffuse pubescence pattern on the elytra and the bispinose elytra. Based on the length of the antennae, you're probably looking at a female."