Saturday, August 28, 2021

Big crab, little crab


Toads in holes

So there's a traditional English recipe called "toad in a hole." I've never made it, but some main ingredients are sausage and eggs. That said, we have FOR REAL toads in holes in our Wildscape. I have observed this behavior by Gulf Coast toads in the past: September 2018 in the back yard and May 2021 in our brick flower box. Since May, the toad in our flower box has enlarged his hole and added a roommate, as you can see in my photos below. How sweet.
While out in the front yard yesterday evening, I noticed five or six holes in the ground. Most are no wider than a quarter. I beamed down my phone's flashlight in all of them and found a young toad in one. Very interesting!

Friday, August 27, 2021

O wise cenizo AGAIN

Yesterday morning, James and I were discussing the weather. The day's forecast predicted rain. "Lemme go check the cenizo," I said, half joking. Then I peeked out a front window....

"IT'S BLOOMING," I exclaimed, dumbfounded. 

But would it REALLY rain? I waited and waited....

After supper, radar showed a little system out to the west. So I sat outside by the Meadow and waited some more. The wind kicked up, and the oaks rattled. Thunder sounded, too. 
Sure enough, IT RAINED! Okay, okay, it didn't much, but IT RAINED!
Thursday got some wet stuff

And today? More rain forecasted. Sure enough, here came another little system from the west. It just now rained! O wise cenizo, you're right for the third time this summer. Last summer, this same cenizo across the street nailed it THREE TIMES!

More wet stuff this afternoon

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Wolf on a lily

Now THIS was a very interesting sight to behold! Boy, was I surprised last night when I spotted a wolf spider hanging upside down on a rain lily in the Meadow. She's likely an undescribed species of Hogna, according to Eric N. on iNaturalist. Isn't she beautiful? Sadly, though, I suspect that a spider wasp bit and paralyzed my spider friend for her wasp children. I think that because the wolf spider was unresponsive and didn't move when I finally turned the lily around to get better angles for my photos. A bit later, she disappeared. That's nature!


Eastern amberwing

An eastern WHAT, you ask? Another new-to-me species, too! I spotted this small dragonfly last night when I was doing my Argiope roll call. My "lantana" spider lady in the front yard vanished (she likely relocated because her web was gone). In her absence, I got to see this pretty insect. Meet an eastern amberwing (Perithemis tenera). I also took a short video because I thought it was interesting how this dragonfly moved its wings.

Summer tanager goes out to eat

So here's a great reason why you shouldn't spray pesticide on those wasp nests. Look–our summer tanagers (Piranga rubra) eat the larvae! Last night, we watched a tanager fly in and up, snagging some eats under our roof. We're pretty sure we've had a nesting pair in the live oaks behind our house.

Ode to my zinnias

No two flower blooms are exactly the same. I love how nature does that. These are zinnias that reseeded on their own. I'm honored that they chose to return to our Wildscape (even if they're not native).


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Argiope update

Every day, I check up on my yellow garden spiders (Argiope aurantia). Alas, one of my five vanished. I don't think she just moved because I found an empty web. From my experience, that's an ominous sign for an Argiope. Usually, they take down their web, THEN move. So I'm down to four mamas-to-be. 

Yesterday, I saw that a male had built his own digs lower down on HER web. She's obviously already mated because her abdomen is LARGE. So I guess he's just finishing up his life cycle, taking it easy, enjoying the scenery.

Texas ironclad beetle

I love these guys. This particular Texas ironclad beetle (Zopherus nodulosus haldemani) seemed to want his photo taken. So I obliged. In the past, these beetles have shown me their "Lazarus" side. I've written several posts on the ability (you can search my blog for more) and an essay, too. So cool! Beautiful beetle, too.


Another new butterfly!

Yes! Yet ANOTHER "right time, right place" story. I was checking on one of our yellow garden spiders and spotted what looked to be a different kind of butterfly. It was! This is a goatweed leafwing (Anaea andria). I wish I could have seen the interior wings. But at least I got some shots before it flew away. 

In the meantime, I noticed that the leafwing was sharing a perch on a Texas lantana with a green June beetle (Cotinis nitida). After the butterfly left, I looked closer at the beetle. It was dining on the lantana berries! First time I've observed ANYTHING eating those berries. There were at least three or four other beetles doing the same thing. Interesting!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

O wise cenizo!

Chalk up another point for the wise, all-knowing cenizo that lives across the street. It started blooming Aug. 12 and I posted a Facebook photo on Aug. 13, letting folks know that our cenizo predicted rain. Well, guess what? We just had an afternoon DOWNPOUR, and more may on the way! 

At the start of this month, the cenizo bloomed. Two days later, it rained. Last summer, the cenizo got it right three for three!

Crestrib update

My Edwards Plateau crestrib morning-glory (Ipomoea costellata var. edwardsensis) loved today's rains!

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Argiope roll call

Molt Mate Murder lady in the lantanas

Despite our rough February storm (or because of it?), we've had a lot of nice surprises in our Wildscapes. Like an abundance of yellow garden spiders (Argiope aurantia). This summer, we have FIVE females! For the first time, I've observed males on most of the webs, too. I can't wait to see how many egg sacs they all turn out.

Argiope in the salvia 'Red Galeana' front yard

Argiope in the front yard turk's cap
Argiope near the back yard faux well

Shy Argiope near the back fence...she runs up her web when I approach