Saturday, August 31, 2013

Snapdragon vine goo

On my way to check our garden spider this evening, I happened to notice a strange phenomenon on our climbing snapdragon vine (Maurandella antirrhiniflora)–a sort of black goo on some of the flower heads. I touched one, and the stuff was thick. Weird. I didn't notice that junk last summer on the vine. I'll have to ask around and see if I can find out what's going on.


The goo isn't on all the flower heads. Some are blooming normally and producing seeds (photo below). 

Betony-leaf mistflower blooming

Queen on our betonyleaf mistflower (Conoclinium betonicifolium)

Our very own cenzio

A month or so ago, I spotted a bedraggled dwarf cenizo at a Home Depot. "Can I have it?" I asked James. I'd been wanting a cenizo, and a dwarf variety would be great. So yes, the little guy came home with us. Happily, it even bloomed after our half inch of rain last week. 

Argiope mama update

In my last post (August 12, 2013), I reported that our garden spider (Argiope aurantia) was getting large again. Well, she DID INDEED deposit more eggs in a second sac! (See photo above.) Darned if she didn't start getting big AGAIN–a third time! Many female spiders can store sperm, which is how she's able to keep dropping eggs. Take a look at how she's changed since my last photos Aug. 12. 
August 16, 2013
August 24, 2013
August 28, 2013...she's getting BIGGER.
August 31, 2013 (today) She's back to "normal." This morning, while watering, James couldn't find her. She'd disappeared. I suspected that she was off, taking care of egg business. Sure enough, I went back outside this evening, and there she was, back on her web, fiesty as ever and "thin" again. I looked and looked but couldn't find a third egg sac. But we will! She's hid there among the leaves and branches somewhere.

In the meantime, the argiope in the back yard disappeared from her post near the rue and salvia. The thing is, she AND her web vanished. Which told me that she up and relocated (if the web's still there, a predator likely got the spider). I looked and looked but couldn't find her. Until this morning, while I was watering in the back yard, I noticed a strand of spider web but didn't think much of it. Until I looked again. "THERE you are!" I exclaimed, seeing my spider friend. She'd crawled all the way across the back yard to her new location! This is her third location. I originally spotted her on another salvia at a different spot in the back yard. I think I annoyed her so she moved. Several days later was when I found her by the rue. This gal is sensitive and doesn't like to be bugged!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Long-legged beauty update

Our lady Argiope aurantia continues to inhabit a flower bed in our front yard. Last week, while watering in the back yard, James told me that he thought we had a second garden spider because this one looked smaller. "I bet she's laid her egg sac," I replied. "I looked around, but I couldn't find one."

James took off to go check and returned, grinning. "I found it!" he announced. Wow, I was impressed. Sure enough, there was her egg sac, secured up in the crape myrtle leaves, wonderfully hidden.  

I also noticed a tiny interloper on her web. "Hey, look!" I told James. "I haven't seen one of those in YEARS." It was a dewdrop spider (Argyrodes trigonum), a kleptoparasitic cobweb species that's perfectly capable of building its own web but prefers to steal prey from its host. Sometimes these pushy spiders even dines right alongside the garden spider!

Now fast forward to today, August 12, 2013, and take a look at our girl (two photos below). She's gotten BIG again! So I predict that she's about to produce a second egg sac. With two, we should have a prolific number of garden spiderlings next spring. And that's something to look forward to!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rockin' rock roses

All of our rock roses have just busted out with blooms!