Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A different kind of find

I just never know what I'll find in our native gardens. A dollar bill?!

Milkweed survey 2021

Antelope-horns (Asclepias asperula) in our Meadow right now: 18!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

What the lizard left behind

So James spotted these yesterday. They're at least four eggs that had just been deposited by a Texas spiny lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus). I must have scared the mama off while I was planting some salvias in a nearby bed. We vacated the premises in hopes that she'd return. But she didn't. So I brushed the dirt back over the eggs for her. Looking forward to meeting you, little ones!

Prairie nymph

My parents have lived at their Kendall County home since nearly the mid 1980s. In all the years of visiting, I never noticed this beautiful wildflower bloom until just a few years ago. It's called prairie nymph (Herbertia lahue), In April 2018, I dug up three and transplanted them into our yard. So far, one has survived but hasn't bloomed. Meanwhile, I got some photos of one or two in bloom at Mom's house this week. So breath-taking!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Yellow-headed blackbirds

I was in the garage awhile ago, working on seeds. Suddenly, a HUGE flock of blackbirds flew from some live oaks across the street into ours. I stepped outside and couldn't believe my eyes. HUNDREDS of them! Then I saw some yellow heads. "You came back!" I hollered. Off I ran to get James and next my camera. I've only seen yellow-headed blackbirds (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) in Blanco twice since I've lived here. One time was just down the street in some neighbors' live oaks. Such an awesome sight to witness! Here's a video....

And then a little blooper (below) for fun....

Friday, April 23, 2021

Birdbath visitor!

It's a rainy, gray day here today. We're praying for much needed rain this afternoon. A bit ago, I happened to glance out our dining room window. "Look!" I told James. I ran for my big camera and got one good shot before he/she flew off. A Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii). 


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

New additions

New plant friends from Linda Chang: Evergreen sumac (Rhus virens), Bracted passionflower (Passiflora affinis), narrow-leaf coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia).
New plant friends from the Blanco Master Gardeners plant sale: trailing pink salvia, four heirloom irises (purple) from Germany and a sedum.
New plant friends from a recent Blanco plant swap: salvia, two tomato plants and a Clematis sp.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Flame acanthus pruned hard

Yesterday I cut back our old flame acanthus HARD. Nearly to the ground. After the blizzards, many of the branches were dead and woody. We'll see how it responds. I think it will come back nicely.

Found what I thought was a beetle burrow...


Here's an after photo.
The first of three acanthus I cut back is in foreground.
This afternoon, I pruned three more flame acanthus.

Taking roll call

Two thin sprigs...maybe? April 24 update: YES, COMING BACK!
Okay, listen up, Wildscape friends! I'm taking roll call for spring. Who's coming back, and who's not? I'm giving everyone plenty of time to decide. Hoping for 100 percent attendance.
A little bit of green poking up?  April 24 update: YES, COMING BACK!

Green seedling is NOT the vine. YES, COMING BACK!



April 24 update: YES, COMING BACK!
April 24 update: YES, COMING BACK!

Don't tell this one, but I don't care if it lives or dies.

Scarlet pea June 22 YES, COMING BACK!

Friday, April 16, 2021

A possible explanation

Small phigalia moth

So why are so many caterpillars dying? I asked Wizzie Brown, a program specialist with Texas AgriLife Extension, and here's what she had to say:

"It is probably a virus that has infected a portion of the spring cankerworm population. When caterpillars are infected with a virus, they seek out 'higher ground' to die. This is actually something that allows the virus to be spread throughout the population more readily since the virus needs to be consumed to affect the host. If the caterpillar dies at a higher location, then that will allow the virus to possibly drop and spread over a larger area. Once the caterpillars die, they will look like they are melting as the body breaks down and eventually splits open to release the replicated virus.

"Should you be concerned? I would say no, as it's just nature happening. This is the first reported case I've gotten of this, but it could be happening elsewhere. Viruses are pretty specific to their arthropod host, so I wouldn't think that they would move from an insect to a bird."

Thank you, Wizzie! 

Forest tent caterpillar

Sawfly larva

Cutworm moth

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

What's going on?

Oh, my goodness! I just went outside to hunt caterpillars for iNaturalist and found THIS! The past few days, we'd noticed some messes left by caterpillars on our outside walls but NOT like this! I suspect something's going on nature-wise, but I don't know what. In my 19 years of living in this house, I've never seen this phenomenon. One year, we had LOTS AND LOTS of forest tent caterpillars. But they didn't leave messes like this. There are several species involved, too. Stay tuned. I've got my feelers out.... Reminds me of the Gulf fritillaries several years ago that would melt and then die.


Thankfully, the stains DO come off with water! Thank you, James!