Thursday, April 21, 2022

O Wise Cenizo 2022

So here we go for 2022! On Facebook last Monday (April 18), I posted these two photos of O Wise Cenizo across the street "slightly" blooming. As you may or may not know, we've had next to no rain this spring. It's been awful and sad. Hardly any bluebonnets have come up in the Meadow. 
Naturally, I was excited to see the cenizo in bloom last Monay. But I was hesitant about posting the photos of it on Facebook. Could O Wise Cenizo REALLY predict rain again? Like it did so many times last year and times before that? Well, the next day, we had light showers! Today we've been having more light showers. Hey, we'll take any and all moisture we can get! 
Dear O Wise Cenizo, you are AMAZING once again!

April 19 showers

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Fighting fire ants

So I have decided to fight the red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) that have taken up residence in our yard and Meadow. Here is what I'm using and doing as I go through this process. I'm also including information gathered from other sources on how to control this invasive species. 

First I emailed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and asked how they control fire ants at the center: "Our gardens manager says we use orange oil, CONSERVE, and ant traps, depending on the situation. She recommends starting with orange oil and see how that goes."

Texas Two Step method (click on link for guidelines). 

Managing Fire Ants for Specific Sites

Products: Extinguish Plus 

                Fertilome Come and Get It fire Ant Killer

               Orange Guard

Finally, I visited with Tor on the phone at Orange Guard in California. He advised a mixing ratio of one part Orange Guard and three parts water. "Puncture and pore into the mound until you see bubbles," he told me. He said to figure 1/2 gallon per mound. Using his math, one gallon mixed with three gallons of water will treat eight mounds. 

SHERYL, however, decided to start out using less on her first mound. Here's how it went on a Wednesday about 2:30 p.m.:

Purchased on Amazon for $41.20, one gallon, free shipping.

I returned to the scene half an hour later....

Alas, I did spot some ants still inside the mound. We'll see! Stay tuned. I'll be updating this post as I go.

UPDATE MAY 14, 2022 –– So the orange oil works fairly well. Now I'm going to try diatomaceous earth, which is the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. In a nutshell, the powder causes insects to dry out and die. First, I watched two videos produced by Jamie Hardy with Useful Knowledge. In the second video, "Diatomaceous Earth Fire Ant Study," Jamie demonstrates his treatment method and then shares a study he made of 31 mounds that he treated with DE. He had pretty good success using DE.
Four pounds, $14.99 at our local hardward store.
This morning, I treated two mounds in the Meadow and two in our back yard. However, I altered his method. I did not liberally broadcast and throw out DE beyond the mound. That's because I do not want to harm other insects (though I'm sure a few will perish). Instead, I used a plastic cup to scoop up some DE, then I sprinkled it generously around the mounds' perimeters and also in the entry hole areas. I'll check the mounds this afternoon and see what's going on....



Tuesday, April 19, 2022

More blooms

So another first-time bloomer–our Eve's necklace (Styphnolobium affine), gifted to us last year by Matt Murrah. James planted her in the Meadow.
I couldn't decided which photo to post so I posted both (different lighting). This has got to be the prettiest our blue wild indigo (Baptisia autralis) has ever looked. So far, no genista broom moth caterpillars (Uresiphita reversalis)....


Friday, April 15, 2022

I'm in a museum!

(Not my image)

This is the fun part of having a blog. You just never where posts may lead you. Back in July 2014, I made a "When bees to go to bed" post. The post includes some of my favorite photos that I've taken in our Wildscape. I haven't seen bees roost like that since. (You'll have to check out the post!) Anyway, on April 10, 2020, I received this email: "I am a docent at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and with your permission would love to use the subject photo for educational purposes only at the museum. Of course, I would credit you as the photographer. Buzz H." 

I granted him permission and asked that he send me a photo of how he was going to use it.

Last Thursday, Buzz emailed me: "Two years ago you gave me permission to use your sleeping bees photo for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s internal document that docents use to interpret bees to museum visitors. You asked me to send me a photo about how your photo is being used. The document is now in use at the museum. I have attached a photo of the document’s cover page and a photo of the page that has your photo. By the way, our museum is also involved with the University of Arizona and Pima Community College in a collaborative native bee research effort called the Tucson Bee Collaborative." Isn't this just COOL!?? Thank you, Buzz!


Blanco crabapple blooming!

Another first-time bloomer! We bought and planted our Blanco crabapple (Malus ioensis var. texana) in April 2013. It was among MANY native plants we bought for my birthday that spring. Fellow native plant enthusiast Matt Murrah was over two afternoons ago, checking out our gardens, when he spotted the buds on our crabapple. So that makes THREE first-time bloomers this spring: Texas buckeye, barberry and now our crabapple. Wonderful!


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

In honor of Celia

Everyone loved Celia Escamilla. She had the most beautiful smile and infectious laugh. No one had more enthusiasm for and love of all things wild and nature-related. I first met Celia when she and I were in the 2012 training class with the Highland Lakes chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists. For six years, we roomed together at annual state conferences. Besides serving as a Master Naturalist, Celia also volunteered at the Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery and was president of the Friends of Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery. Last October, we lost our precious, fearless Celia to cancer. This past Saturday, April 9, the Master Naturalists and the Friends together hosted a dedication at the hatchery of a new butterfly bench that honors Celia's memory and work. It is located in the pollinator garden that she helped to plan and plant. I hope sometime you can visit the hatchery, which is also an amazing nature preserve. When you do, please take a seat within the wings of the butterfly bench and remember our beloved Celia, who's safe within the arms of her Jesus.... 

Celia's family also attended Saturday's dedication: Front row, sister Elodia Escamilla, son Eddie Martinez and father Jorge Escamilla; back row, sister Selina Escamilla, son Arlie Brewer, brother Johnny Escamilla, uncle Rick Fierro, and son Tony Brewer.

I love you, Celia, and miss you with all my heart.....

Barberry in bloom

In April 2013, we bought a Texas barberry (Mahonia swaseyi) and planted under live oaks in The Meadow. Sadly, it struggled, then died. In May 2018, we decided to try another one, which we planted in full sun in the back yard. It's THRIVING! Plus, it's blooming for the first time. They're such pretty little flowers.

A FISHING spider?

Yes, I spotted a FISHING spider in our front yard this past week! I was bent down, pulling snailseed vines, when I happened to glance at an old stump. Then I looked again.... It was a spider, so well camouflaged that I had to look AGAIN. So meet a white-banded fishing spider (Dolomedes albineus). As their common name implies, most species of this genus of spiders (Dolomedes) occur near water. But not this one. According to, "Often observed on trees or on walls of man-made structures. Both D. albineus and D. tenebrosus are often observed away from water...." Needless to say, I was THRILLED to find this spider. It's a new species for my list.

Plus, this little fellow inspired me in a special way....I hope to share how someday.

Monday, April 11, 2022


Yesterday was the third time our neighborhood Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii) visited one of our many bird baths in the back yard....