Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Milkweed survey 2020

I'm working to get an accurate head count of antelope-horns in the Meadow. I think it's 15.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Right time, right place

Yesterday afternoon, I just happened to step into the Meadow so I could check for critters on a blooming antelope-horn. Look what I found! A gorgeous clearwing moth! Moth, you say? Yes! I shared my find on iNaturalist, where my species count is now up to 935. This is a squash vine borer (Melittia cucurbitae). I originally IDed it as M. calabaza but was corrected by another iNat user who knows his clearwings. You can compare the two species here and here. The difference is subtle and found in the abdominal segments. "Melittia cucurbitae has a dark olive green second abdominal segement, distinguished from Melittia calabaza, which as some orange on the second abdominal segment," according to

Either way, my veggie garden friends have no use for this insect. That's because, as its common name implies, the larvae bore into squash stems and eat the heck out of them. "I hate those things," Pam says about the ugly caterpillars (see M. cucurbitae larvae here). "I can't grow a decent squash any more." 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


These are crazy times, and yesterday I was feeling a bit on edge. So James herded me into his car, and we headed to our rural land (where we were COMPLETELY alone in the clear open air). It's his favorite place to be. For an hour or more, we walked the trails he's made and listened to the birds. As always, I mostly scanned the ground on the look out for something new. But this time, my "something new" came from a different direction. As we walked beneath a live oak, I noticed a pointy thing dangling in the air from a silken strand. What the heck? I "caught" it and took some photos for James iNaturalist account. How odd! And what a perfectly shaped point! It reminded me of a lizard's tail. James took a video of the larvae when it poked its head out.

Earlier today, a kind iNaturalist user (who's not even from Texas) identified our insect as an octagonal casemaker moth (Homaledra octogonella). According to, the larvae feed on lichens which grow on oaks. If we'd had a magnifying lens, we could have seen the case's eight sides. Amazing!
Can you see the larva's head in this photo?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Bluebonnets 2020

My early-morning shots don't do our bluebonnets in the Meadow much justice. But I had to try and get some pictures. It's our best year yet in terms of numbers and spread!

And meet Prima Donna de Hearn, aka "Prima," a snowshoe calico who showed up February 16....just 10 days after we buried our last elderly cat, Abe. She claimed us the moment she laid her bright blue eyes us on us.  We were pretty much smitten, too. And we'd said no more cats for the unforeseen future. HA! I don't post photos of cats because it's frowned up to have outdoor cats in a Wildscape. But so far, she hasn't caught one single critter in our yard. 

I think God dropped her in our yard straight from heaven. Because NO ONE in our neighborhood or town had ever seen her before. She's been a wonderful gift and came at exactly the right time.