Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wildlife.. sometimes in focus..

Enjoying that honeymoon period where it's warm enough for everything to get lush and not boilingly dry yet. I'm taking my cue from Tina at who hosts Wildlife Wednesday to get outside and look at the wildlife that surrounds me...

I have to look up most of the creatures I find. I was delighted to discover that I snapped pictures of the same species in caterpillar AND moth form in the same day (in different locations of course).

Below is an Eight Spotted Forester caterpillar chomping on volunteer Virginia Creeper in my yard. Lucky guy, the chickens haven't found him yet.

Below is an adult Eight Spotted Forester moth (I think!) on some daisies at the Natural Gardener. These guys are native to Texas and feed on wild grapes (the tree above my Virginia creeper has Mustang grape vines growing in it) too.

I also spotted a Painted Lady on the same plant. They are a common sight (also known as the Cosmopolitan since they are so widely distributed), but they hold still less often in my yard! 

Less welcome is this Saltmarsh (Estigmene acrea) caterpillar feasting on my chard. They are also common in the Southwest. He gave me the motivation to harvest the last of my cool season greens, pock marks and all!

After careful washing..

This year I am letting my volunteer passionflower vines become groundcovers, since no one walks in the far back area except me and the chickens. They are the host plants to the Gulf Fritillary caterpillar (which grows into a very common butterfly in my ecosystem). I was happy to see some caterpillars munching away on the undersides of the leaves.

Also in the back, far from the house (thankfully!) I saw these teeny beetles enjoying pollen from a parsley plant. I was looking for swallowtail caterpillars, but found varied carpet beetles instead. They can be pests in houses, so I'm glad to keep them outside where they belong instead. I wanted to call them Charlie Brown beetles since their pattern reminds me of his sweater..

Lots of other beetles in the garden. Below is a Lady Beetle juvenile I think.. Hopefully she's a local one.

At first I thought the shiny gal below was a Polished lady beetle (Cycloneda munda) but they don't appear to be endemic to Texas. When I paid attention to the dots on her head I realized she's an Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia Axyridis)- an unfortunately invasive species introduced to control aphids. I guess my milkweeds will be pleased.. but I hope she doesn't eat the locals!

My red autumn sage keeps attracting the fuzzies: Big like a bumblebee (Common Eastern Bumblebee vs Carpenter bee- those stripes are stumping me!)

And a fascinated cat..

The wisteria in the back provides great shelter for the bird feeder, but makes all my pictures back lit. We have the usual doves and house sparrows, but have a pair of cardinals (female on the right) as well. The dove flying up is .. white wing of course!

We also have some curious blue jays hopping around. This guy investigated both sides of the fence for 30 minutes one morning. He hasn't seemed particularly aggressive, though I remember other blue jays dive bombing my cats before.

Happy Wildlife day!