Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lost Ladybug Project

Twice-stabbed lady beetle that landed yesterday on ME (my shorts, actually). Submitted to the Lost Ladybug Project. See here.

Horseweed continued

If you'll recall, in June I posted about a "likely nuisance plant," which I've allowed to grow because I want to see if and how it blooms. Not to mention how tall it'll grow! Wow! It just doesn't seem to stop going UP! 

This is a  horseweed (Conyza canadensis). Looks like it's about to flower. And when it does, I'll take some photos and report back.

A few blooms

Gray globemallow
Firecracker bush

Another bird bath!

I just couldn't resist! I spotted this for sale in Wimberley on on Craigslist right after the floods. It never did sell so James and I ran over there last week and bought it. We both love it. I think we're up to at least 20 bird baths now in the back yard. One can never have too many, I believe.


Another great mimic in the garden! Can you find the hornworn on our tomato plant in the photo above? It blends right in. I knew we had at least one because the leaves were starting to disappear on one plant. Finally, I found the chubby, well-fed culprit. "OK," I told it, "you can stay as long as you leave me the tomatoes." Which it does. 

I'd assumed it was a tomato hornworm. Not. It's a tobacco hornworm, which morphs into a Carolina sphinx (Manduca sexta). The true tomato hornworm is the larva of the five-spotted hawkmoth (Manduca quinquemaculatus).

Sphinx moth

Meet a vine sphinx (Eumorpha vitis), the first one I've seen in our Wildscape. The caterpillars host on vines. In June, Wes sent me a photo of one that he spotted in Bandera. This is what the vine sphinx caterpillar looks like.

Reptiles and amphibians

Thanks to our earlier summer rains, we have more reptiles and amphibians showing up around our Wildscape. Like little toads (above) and a frog that I still haven't been able to photograph. No anoles, I'm sad to report, but lots of Texas spiny lizards, especially baby ones. They're so cute.
See the little spiny lizard?
An older spiny lizard....

You've got to look smack in the middle of this photo, top the big rock, and you might see the baby spiny lizard. They really blend in!
He/she is easier to spot in this photo.
See it peeking out from the rock?

This is a even younger lizard. 
You gotta look hard for the lizard, perched on the rock.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Repotting day plus some stories

Whew! I'm glad THAT project's done! You know how little projects that you need to do just niggle away at you? Until you finally DO THEM? Well, I'd been eyeing my few indoor potted plants, thinking for the longest time that I needed to repot them. 



Since I bought a big bag of potting soil at Blanco Gardens this morning, I might as well tackle the plants on the front porch. Which started with a little top dressing on my 11-year-old mandarin tree. That was easy. THEN I pulled the asparagus plant out of its plastic pot. YIKES! OH MY STARS! I'd never seen so many roots in my life in my pot!
After calling Cheryl at Blanco Gardens for her thoughts, I first pulled off roots, then I got a bread knife from the kitchen and sawed off roots. I took at least a third off the bottom and plenty off the sides. It was going back into its old pot, by George.
Asparagus ferns FIGHT BACK! But I didn't care. I was going to FINISH THIS PROJECT. 
And I did. Below are my freshly redone fern and tree. I also repotted the African milk tree (a tall succulent that my uncle gave me in 2002).

And here are my sweet, innocent indoor plants that triggered the project. They're happily repotted, too.

As for the promised stories, the asparagus fern has been with me since my freshman year in college. Okay, I have to say the date now...that would be August 1977. I bought it as a little plant for my dorm room. My roommate Laura let me hang it from the wall. I called it Figgy, short for Figaro. Why Figaro, I can't recall. My suitmate, Becky, HATED the name Figgy. Again, I have no memory why. After my marriage ended in 2002, I left my fern behind with my former husband. I can't remember how much time went by, but he dropped it off one day. I was glad to see her come back. We've been together ever since.

And the original airplane plant, which mothered the airplane plants in the photo above, came to me as a little gift via a Christmas card from a fellow writer I met eons ago when the Internet was first starting up. Her name was Sheryl, too, and we connected through our names. She lived in Philadelphia. Sadly, Sheryl passed in December 2011. I didn't find out about her passing until many months later. We hadn't been in contact for a while and when I tried to contact her, that's when I learned of her untimely death. 

But the special part of the story is that I found Sheryl's sister, Wilma, through Facebook. I messaged her with my condolences, and we became Facebook friends. In January 2013, I mailed her a fern baby off mine in a card. She was thrilled because she remembered Sheryl always having these ferns in her apartment. Wilma calls her fern "Baby" and sends me photos now and then of it. Neat, huh?   

More than two weeks later, and Figgy the fern appears to be doing just fine after my hatchet job!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Look again!

Look again! There she is! A beautiful green lynx spider on the Jerusalem sage, blending right in. I was cutting back dead flowerheads, when I happened to see her. Needless to say, I didn't cut off that head!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Common whitetail

I don't have too many images of dragonflies in our Wildscape because they're rather rare. But here's a common whitetail (Plathemis lydia) that showed up the other day and allowed me to take some portraits. Tis a male, I believe.

Spider smarts

The other morning, I happened to see a long strand of silk, coming down from an oak over the patio. Hmmm, I thought. Then what should I spy, but a green crab spider, perched atop one of our blue iron chairs. Evidently, she'd recently dropped down from the tree and stationed herself on the chair. She was in prime prey position, ready to grab whatever meal might fly by. 

"Silly spider," I laughed. "What do you expect to catch THERE?"
 You have to look REAL close at the top of this chair, and you can see her. I cropped the photo (below) so she shows up better. See her? She's lit up by the sun.
Anyway, I try not to interfere too much with nature, but after passing by her several times, I decided I'd go ahead and move her to a location where she'd be more successful in snagging breakfast....atop a black-eyed susan.
 See her? While I was photographing her with my point-and-shoot, I noticed a jumping spider on another bloom, Naturally, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to take a picture of my favorite kind of spider.
I didn't stick around after I got my shots, but I'm quite sure that my "smart" crab spider gal enjoyed a fine dining experience after I left. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Took some quick pics of a frog found at my mother's house outside of Boerne. I think it's a gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor). But I could be wrong.

Mr. Bold Jumping Spider

After I photographed the other spiders Thursday, we sat down on the back patio to relax. In the evening sunlight, I saw a strand of silk streaming in the air, coming off a green chair that's part of an outdoor table set. I didn't think much about it. Maybe a spiderling attempting to balloon?
Then James spotted a jumping spider, perched on the chair. A bold jumper (Phidippus audax), my favorite species since childhood! What a cutie!
Then he stuck his little abdomen in the air. Ah ha! It'd been HIM, shooting out silk! He was trying to catch a breeze and take off but where, I have no idea. He didn't either, I'm sure. Likely searching for a gal to marry. I ended up moving him to a flower bed. Best wishes in your voyages, Mr. Bold Jumping Spider!