Monday, July 31, 2017

Uninvited dinner guests

Last night, I was outside watering my plant friends (to keep them alive during these blazing hot temps) when I noticed a cloud of gnats or tiny flies swarming around our tall Texas hibiscus. I inched up closer to see better. And look what I found! A praying mantid TRYING to eat her bug supper. Those pesky flies kept horning in, trying to get some, too. You can see them in these photos. I also took a video, but the focus is horrible. I'm going to share it because you can at least see the flies flying around the mantid. Interesting!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Antlion adult

Those cool little insects that build funnels in the dirt and wait for a delicious victim to topple in? This is what they grow up to owlfly.

Angel on my shoulder

Sometimes all I have to do is just sit on the back patio, and adventure comes to ME! Yesterday evening, I happened to glance over to my left and look what I found! A praying mantid kid, perched right there on my shoulder. Fun! I love praying mantids! After a bit of chasing, I captured my little friend and released it in the Jerusalem sage. It groomed a bit, then went on its merry way. See you next time, angel!

Yellow garden spider

My pretty yellow garden spider gal has grown! The brown exoskeleton to the right is a sure sign that she's expanded around the waist. Ha! But if you look even closer, you might notice some webbing in front of her. Hmmm. That was new to me so I took some photos. 

Typically, orbweavers only build a round web and lurk upside down on it, waiting for prey to stumble into the sticky strands. I observed that the extra strands in front of this garden spider were messy and not at all orb-like. For added protection,  I surmise that she threw those up right before she molted. After a molt, a spider's outer skin is soft until it hardens. Thus, a spider is more vulnerable to predators right after a molt. My theory: this garden spider threw up the extra web as a shield. Cool, eh?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Scarlet pea

My transplanted scarlet pea (Indigofera miniata) is happy. This lovely but oft-ignored native usually gets mowed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Tiger swallowtail

Eastern tiger swallowtail on our phlox this afternoon!

Poor beautyberry

July 1, 2017
We planted two American beautyberries in October 2014. One must have died because we only have one. Last year, it struggled but came back this spring. It was growing gang busters, then we noticed a wilting branch. The branch died. Then another wilted. Looking for help, I posted the photo above on Facebook and asked for input as to what might be happened. No one really offered any advice. Look at the poor beautyberry now (below). We may be losing it for good this time. And I don't know why. And yes, I've been giving it water to get it through these hot weeks.
July 16, 2017

Hot blooms

Prairie fleabane
 Summer temps are searing. But despite the heat, we've got colors in our Texas Wildscape!
Gray golden aster
Scarlet bouvardia (firecracker bush)
Wedelia (zexmenia)
Woolly ironweed
Black-eyed susans

'John Fanick' phlox

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Passiflora tidbits

Our little birdwing passionflower (Passiflora tenuiloba) is finally...

 And do you know why corkstem passionflower (Passifora suberosa) is named corkstem? Well....
I do now!

Evening stroll

 Thread-waisted wasp
 Wood roach

 Texas spiny lizard child chomping on something

Texas bush-clover

Our little Texas bush-clover (Lespedeza texana) is coming right along. I just love this native species that I transplanted from our adjoining neighbor's yard (with her permission, of course) in October 2014. Now it can grow freely without being mowed. Its tiny purple flowers resemble delicate orchids. This year, I harvested some seeds. Each pod contains one tiny black seed, which looks like a pea (see photo below).

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Bedroom beetle

Spotted last night on our bedroom wall! My side of the bed, of course. Likely a false blister beetle. Perhaps Oxacis trimaculata? Mine resembles this one.

Hackled orbweaver

I just love finding new creatures to photograph in our Wildscape. This one was hanging within a pot of mother-in-law tongue plants. What is this creature? First clue: there's an orbweb. So it's a orbweaver spider of some kind. This one was small, about a fourth of an inch or so. Which made it very difficult to photograph. But I did my best.
While culling and editing photos, I was about to click the "delete" button when I spotted the photo bomber (above). Can you see her? She's of the eight-legged variety....a bold jumping spider.
So meet a hackled orbweaver, more specifically a feather-legged spider (Uloborus sp.). Perhaps Uloborus glomosus? In the close-ups below, you can actually see the "feathers" on the spider's front legs.