Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Beautiful blooms

Our climbing milkweed vine is blooming.

And our swanflower is blooming for the first time ever!
The next day....

Frass on the sidewalk

Hmm, frass–as in insect poop–on the sidewalk can only mean one thing...caterpillars are nearby. Sure enough, a bit of searching of the yellow honeysuckle finally turned up the culprits–snowberry clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) moth caterpillars! Awesome!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Buckeyes in our Wildscape

A few days ago, James noticed a seed pod on our Mexican buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa). It's our first one! Aren't the seeds just BEAUTIFUL? (Bad me, I was jealous–I wanted to be the one who found it. LOL!)
What's also interesting about this tree is how FAST it's grown. We purchased it as a wee child from a native plant sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in October 2013. Check out the photos on my blog post, and you'll see how small it was. NOW look at it (below). I'm not good at estimating, but maybe 12 feet tall?

On the same October 2013 post, you'll also see our Texas buckeye (Aesculus glabra var. arguta) that was gifted around the same time to us by Ron and Linda. Back then, it was barely 6 inches tall. Fast forward nearly five years, and it really hasn't made much progress (photo below). But that's OK. Everyone's allowed to be who they are in our Texas Wildscape.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

More than 450 species!
Alrighty! I've documented 450+ species of plants and animals in our one-acre "urban" Wildscape! Those do NOT include anything that we planted. And I'm not done yet! 

I'm working to demonstrate how native plants can bring a diversity of nature to even the smallest yard.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Beetle saga continues

Okay. You may not believe this. I almost don't. But it's all true. You see, I have reason to believe that my Lazarus 3 beetle is actually Lazarus 2. And I think I might need to rename him Knieval because he just may have a death wish. 

If you'll recall, I've fished out two Texas ironclad beetles (Zopherus nodulosus haldemani) from an orange water bucket in the past week. They both came back to life. (I also rescued one that came back to life in 2015.) Now I have reason to believe that the same beetle fell in the bucket TWICE. How do I know this? Because I marked Lazarus 3 with dabs of red nail polish. Then I set him free WAY far away from the water bucket in a flower bed of salvias. 

Well, last night, whom did I discover lurking by the back garage door? Yep, Lazarus 3 who's really Lazarus 2 who should be renamed Knieval because he has a death wish. In the photo below, you can see how far this beetle traveled to get back to the bucket. (James is waving from where the flower bed is located.) That's the same place where I released Lazarus 2. Are you confused yet? This beetle has made the same trip TWICE to get back to the water bucket.
I checked this morning, and Knieval is still hanging out in the same area on the exterior wall. Stay tuned. I think I need to find an ironclad beetle expert to report all this.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Lazarus the 3rd

Yes, here we go again. This morning, I checked our water bucket and found ANOTHER Texas ironclad beetle on the bottom. THIS time I took photos. Can you see him in the lower right quadrant of the bucket? He was dead dead dead. For the back story, go back to October 2015's "You're never going to believe this," "Discussion about Lazarus, my ironclad beetle," and last week's "Rejoicing with Lazarus 2."
A closer-up shot of him on the bottom of the bucket.

About 10 or so minutes later, his white coloring started returning.

But an hour and a half later, he still wasn't moving AT ALL. I feared maybe this time this beetle wouldn't make it.

He came back to life!
This time, I marked my beetle friend with some dabs of nail polish. I want to see if the same beetle somehow returns to the water bucket. We'll see!

So off we go, back into the world. Good luck! I'll be watching out for you, Lazarus the 3rd!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Rejoicing with Lazarus 2

Every morning, I check our air conditioning drip bucket to see if I need to rescue any one that fell in overnight. Last week, I found a beautiful rabid wolf spider and fished her out. Through the years, my rescuees have included ants, many click beetles, some spiders, and one ironclad beetle that I named Lazarus

This morning, when I ducked my head out the back garage door to look into the bucket, I found a click beetle swimming at the top. At the bottom lay a lifeless ironclad beetle. I wish I'd taken a photo so you'd believe me. That beetle was ON THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL. Anyway, I pulled it out and lay it on a pillowcase. That's him/her belly up in the photos below. Now, remembering what had happened with my Lazarus friend in 2015, I had a suspicion that perhaps I might have me another Lazarus.

 It sure looks dead, right?

Right before we left to go grocery shopping, I noticed the beetle's normal coloring had returned. So I put it in a larger container.  Not to mention, I saw its legs move!

Sure enough, when we returned home, Lazarus 2 had fully revived! I took some photos and then set it free in a flower bed FAR away from the orange bucket. In October 2015, entomologist Mike Quinn hosted a long discussion about my remarkable beetle. Check it out. In the meantime, isn't nature JUST AMAZING?